Feiwel & Friends
Published June 14, 2022
About Valiant Ladies
Two teen vigilantes set off on an action-packed investigation to expose corruption and deliver justice in Valiant Ladies, Melissa Grey’s YA historical novel inspired by real seventeenth century Latinx teenagers known as the Valiant Ladies of Potosí.
By day Eustaquia “Kiki” de Sonza and Ana Lezama de Urinza are proper young seventeenth-century ladies. But when night falls, they trade in their silks and lace for swords and muskets, venturing out into the vibrant, bustling, crime-ridden streets of Potosí in the Spanish Empire’s Viceroyalty of Peru. They pass their time fighting, gambling, and falling desperately in love with one another.
Then, on the night Kiki’s engagement to the Viceroy’s son is announced, her older brother―heir to her family’s fortune―is murdered. The girls immediately embark on a whirlwind investigation that takes them from the lowliest brothels of Potosí to the highest echelons of the Spanish aristocracy.
Okay, so the premise completely sold me on reading this book. It pretty much had me at “real seventeenth-century Latinx teenagers known as the Valiant Ladies of Potosí.” I also really liked THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT by Melissa Grey, so I was excited to read another book by her.
The cover copy also mentions them taking on the patriarchy, and like, I guess they do fight some individual men. I kept waiting for that to solidify into a larger conspiracy or something. For them to have a more overt victory over a system that oppressed women. I don’t know. Maybe I missed something.
I liked Ana and Kiki’s characters. I felt like the romantic storyline was a little uneven. There was a lot of focus on it at the beginning and then almost no focus on it for a while and then lots of focus on it again. I don’t know if that was supposed to be because Kiki got engaged, and so Ana backed way off, and Kiki repressed her feelings? It wasn’t really clear to me, but maybe I missed some more subtle clues.
There are several places in the story where the girls make choices that really don’t make sense to me. At one point, they go to a brothel looking for a girl who lives there. This is the same place Ana grew up, so the girls are familiar with it. For some reason, they go at night. Guards won’t let them in. They get caught when they break into the girl’s room (which they find completely destroyed). The owner (who raised Ana) asks the girls to leave quietly.
Instead of asking her what happened to the obviously destroyed room and where the girl is, they attack the guards and kill one of them. It just seemed weird to me that it didn’t occur to them to ask the owner what was going on or to assume maybe she hired guards to protect the rest of the girls. At the least, they might want to know why the room was destroyed or what happened.
There are some other places where it felt like maybe some scenes got deleted, and the information in them maybe didn’t make it back into the surviving part of the story if that makes sense? When Kiki’s brother is murdered, for some reason, everyone assumes he died by suicide, but no one really explains why they think this? It was kind of odd. There were other instances where characters made assumptions that didn’t really make sense to me, too. It left me wondering if these were things that had been more obvious to the author but just weren’t as clear to me.
I’m not sure what happened.
On the whole, I love that this book raises awareness about Ana Lezama de Urinza and Dona Eustaquia de Sonza. If you’re interested in knowing more about them, Broads You Should Know has a podcast episode on them.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
All characters are Latinx. The main characters, Anna and Kiki, are attracted to women.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used fairly frequently.
Kissing and attraction between two girls. Ana grew up in a brothel. Both girls are friends with a sex worker.
A family seeks to have a loved one buried, but the church refuses since it’s believed that the man died by suicide. References to demonic rituals. Kiki and Ana attend a funeral service at a church.
Situations of peril and battle scenes. Ana and Kiki fight criminals together. A group of men attack Ana. One punches her in the face. They find the body of a murdered young woman. A woman reveals scars that indicate someone tortured her. Men kidnap two women, threatening them.
Ana attacks a man who then sends his accomplices to beat her up. Ana discovers a man’s body hanging from a tree.
Several characters drink alcohol, including Ana. While drunk, she makes some choices she regrets later.
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