The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals by Jordan Stratford
Publisher: Knopf BFYR
Published: January 2017
Genre: middle grade, mystery, historical fiction
Summary: The Wollestonecraft Girls embark on their most important case yet–the famed dinosaur fossil hunter Mary Anning is being blackmailed. Her precious dog has been snatched and the kidnappers are demanding that Miss Anning authenticate some fake dinosaur bones up for auction at the British Museum in order to get him back. Ada and Mary have just three days to track down the fossil fakers, find the dog, and save the integrity of science! The game is truly afoot in this quirky caper involving blood-sucking leeches, an asthmatic pug, smoke bombs, secret elevators, diabolical disguises, and wicked word-play.
Mini Review: I love middle grade detective fiction, and the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series is no exception! Featuring Mary Shelley and Ada Byron as little girls (anachronistically), with partner in crime Charles Dickens, they solve what appear to be little instances of crime (stolen dog) but are actually major connections to criminal rings (there’s a clever Moriarty character cropping up!). The books were originally inspired by the novels of Charles Dickens’s protege, Wilkie Collins. Now they are taking on a life of their own and it’s so thrilling to watch! I highly recommend this series for little history nerds, fierce feminists, readers with quick wit and sense of humor, and little detectives in the making. See reviews for The Case of the Missing Moonstone and The Case of the Girl in Grey.
This qualifies as book 12 of 12 in the Rock My TBR challenge.
A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published: January 2015
Genre: young adult, gothic, science fiction
Summary: After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls. Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.
Mini Review: This book gave me graduate thesis flashbacks. I spent a whole year immersed in gothic literature (classic and YA) with a fine tooth comb, loving every second of my nightmares that followed. A COLD LEGACY continues the “twist on classic gothic novels” trend Shepherd began with The Madman’s Daughter by following the Frankenstein narrative. The other two books worked as parallels to the inspired classics, but this time the characters meet Dr Frankenstein’s descendants and friends, who want to continue the “cold legacy” of his experimentation. Scottish moors, creepy children, reanimated corpses, oh my! I appreciated the parallels to the original narrative, and found all the high drama twists and turns appropriate to gothic fiction. Juliet’s internal battle and her devotion to two boys continued (and I was so over it in Her Dark Curiosity), but the final chapters left the reader with a solid ending and hope for the remaining characters.
This qualifies as book 13 of 12 in the Rock My TBR challenge.