Stephanie's Reviews > A Spy in the House

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee
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's review
Jan 27, 2012

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bookshelves: historical, kindle, arc, memoir, mystery

The Agency #1
high school & up

Mary is an orphan in 19th century London. At the age of 12 she was about to be hanged for the crime of thievery. Instead, she is taken to Miss Scrimshaw's School for Girls. After 5 years of education she is working as a teacher in the school and feeling completely bored. The headmistresses of the school offer Mary a chance: to join The Agency. This is a secret agency with a very revolutionary idea: that women make perfect spies. On her first assignment, Mary is sent to act as a lady's companion to help with the investigation into possible insurance fraud.

I like the premise quite a bit. Women refusing to conform strictly to society's requirements. In fact, it is probably getting a little repetitive. It seems that is all I'm reading these days. Not sure why. It just kinda happens sometimes.
Anyway, Mary is basically a modern girl. She is independent, outspoken and practical. This can be hard when society usually values women according to how well they married. The book skips right over the five years between her almost-hanging and her first assignment as a spy. It isn't really very spy-like though. Mary's mission is mostly just busy work. There is supposed to be another "agent" on the case. That part bothered me. We never find out who the other agent is and there don't seem to be any characters that could fit the bill. Mary does manage to find out a few things about the case, but very slowly and all the major revelations about the case seem to all bunch up together at the end.
I'm actually more intrigued by Mary's history. She is "half-caste"; which means that she is half Caucasian and half Chinese. In her time period, Chinese were looked down on so Mary is "passing" as a full English girl. There seems to be some mystery surrounding her father that I hope is part of the following books.

**I received an ARC of the 3rd book in the series which is due to be published on February 28, 2012. I purchased this book because of my series compulsion.**

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