February 23, 2018

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Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones | SLJ Review

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redstarJONES, Kelly. Murder, Magic, and What We Wore. 304p. Knopf. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780553535204.

Gr 9 Up –A cross between Jane Austen dramas and Harriet the Spy, this delightful strong female–led title mixes historical fiction and spy mystery with a touch of magic to produce a story filled with adventure. Sixteen-year-old Annis Whitworth leads a privileged existence in 19th-century London when she learns about her father’s tragic death. Suspecting foul play, she sets out to discover the truth behind his mysterious accident and his peripatetic lifestyle. Placing herself on a dangerous path that reveals secrets she may not be prepared to hear, Annis, along with her daring maid, Millie, sets herself up as a disguised dressmaker in a suburb of London. Using her newfound talent to sew magical glamours, which create alternative identities, Annis goes to extremes to get the answers she wants. Though her aunt and guardian, Cassia, appears to be unaware of Annis’s exploits, she reveals herself to be a larger part of the puzzle than Annis could ever have imagined. Rejecting conventions of the time period, Jones infuses her female characters with boldness, intelligence, and wit. The heroine is not shy about devouring food and has aspirations that do not involve marrying a rich man, making this a refreshing take on women in the 1800s. The quirky humor further enhances the book. VERDICT Teens will find this a perfect, modern introduction to Regency novels that portrays confident female role models. An excellent addition to high school libraries.–Karin Greenberg, Queens College, NY

This review was published in the School Library Journal July 2017 issue.

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