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The Case of the Missing Moonstone

(The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,276 ratings  ·  450 reviews
History, mystery, and science collide in a new series for middle-grade readers, perfect for fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society and Lemony Snicket!
Jordan Stratford imagines an alternate 1826, where Ada Lovelace (the world’s first computer programmer) and Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) meet as girls and form a secret detective agency!
Lady Ada Byron, age elev
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Amy Sturgis
Three cheers for Jordan Stratford.

In this steampunk story aimed at middle readers (but delightful for adults, as well), Stratford brings together the mother of modern science fiction, Mary Shelley, and the world's first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace, as girls (14 and 11, respectively). In honor of the feminist writings of Mary's late mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, the two create the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency. They use science to solve the mystery of the missing moonstone. There is so muc
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
*** RE-READ MAY 2021!

Updated rating: 3.5 STARS!!!
Really enjoyed it the second time around! I think when I read it the first time, I expected something more but I think I've changed my mind on that since reading so many more MG mysteries since 2016. I changed the rating from 3 to 3.5, which isn't a lot, but it deserves a bit of a higher rating now. If you love Victorian MG mysteries I highly recommend this one and this series.



2016 REVIEW+

Abigail Bok
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every once in a while, my mood will tolerate nothing but a children’s book. Often I’ll reread a book from the golden age of literature for young people, but this week I ventured into unfamiliar territory and tried #1 in the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series, The Case of the Missing Moonstone. What a thrill! I hope I can entice everyone to read this fresh, clever, touching, and utterly delightful tale.

The story begins with the meeting of two girls in 1826: Ada Byron (more widely known as Ada
Jodi Meadows
Will Ansbacher
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids, mystery
It is such a joy to read aloud to kids, especially when a book is as well written as this one. It's a fast-paced mystery that’s solved by Ada (11) and Mary (14) in classic detective style using deduction, intuition and a whole lot of serendipity. If the names seem a little familiar, you’re right. Stratford based the characters loosely on Ada Lovelace, the programmer-assistant to Charles Babbage of computing fame, and Mary Godwin (Shelley) of Frankenstein fame, whose mother was Mary Wollstonecra ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Go read Enola Holmes instead.
Rated G.

You cannot possibly be serious. There is only so much Deus Ex Machina that I can reasonably take, and The Case of the Missing Moonstone surpasses that boundary spectacularly. I kind of want to say that it is a problem when the most interesting part of a book is the Notes section at the back. I mean, it's a cute story, but I think the main value of the book is its historical value, which is admittedly dubious. Shall we explore the Sins?

Sin #1: Every historical fact/figure is obscured or
Melody Schwarting
Eleven-year-old Ada Byron (later Lovelace) and fourteen-year-old Mary Godwin (later Shelley) form a detective agency and solve crimes--only those with clever criminals. Stratford has bent history quite a bit here, for there was a generational difference between Ada and Mary, and Charles Dickens likely didn't know them, and Percy Bysshe Shelley wasn't quite so involved, either. Yet, this is all explained very well in a lengthy historical note, which eased my historian's conscience greatly.

Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
A somewhat fantastical read, this book explores the concept of "What if Ada Byron Lovelace and Mary Godwin Shelley grew up together. And solved mysteries?" It was quite interesting, and stayed fairly true to what the girls might have been like, as, well, young girls. Mr. Stratford takes a bit of a Sherlockian approach to the solving of the crime, but it doesn't feel overwrought due to Ada's personality AND affinity for numbers. My only issue with the story was that the dialogue was a bit annoyin ...more
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember the last time I read a book this fast and with so much delight. The whole book is just a load of fun. I was absolutely taken with Ada, Mary, and their world to the point that I didn't quite want to return to this one when I had to break for such mundane things like work, food, and sleep.

There's hardly a misstep in this; my only complaint is that Ada is occasionally difficult to follow. Stratford wrangles multiple POVs across the chapters easily and without any confusion.

The hist
Please note that I received a free ARC of this book as a result of a contest in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

Ada is a peculiar girl. Her intelligence is spectacular for her age, and the inventions that she conjures out of her own ingenuity are breathtaking. However, despite being the smartest child I have ever read about, her people skills leave little to be desired. Whatever she is thinking pops right out of her mouth even if it is rude or curt. With her late father obviously not
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
My 11 year old said 5 stars, I say 3, so I'll go with 4. ...more
Anne Beardsley
Some of the most fascinating characters of the later 1800s get together for detective hijinx.
Interesting people, most noticeably Ada.
Real emotions.

So. Many. Plotholes!
Characters at times inconsistent: most noticeably Ada. Sometimes she's completely clueless about the most basic meanings of human facial expressions, customs, and emotions. Other times she's suddenly a human-relationship-and-social-manipulations genius.
The mystery has a solution and a climax that are each as crazy
I stalled on this one. So much promise! It has so many elements I *should* love but somehow it just felt a little too... ostentatious in its cleverness, perhaps? I don't know. And the tone felt a bit too modern. Maybe it was my mood. I might try it again sometime. I'm glad it's out there and getting good reviews. I didn't know anything about Ada until I read this book and that's a shame. She deserves to be better known. It's great that this book highlights kids using science and math to solve my ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
The changes in historical timelines worry me, but the detecting team of Mary and Ada is just too wonderfully realised. A lovely book for 8-12 year olds ideally, and the illustrations are adorable.
Nov 12, 2015 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Wanda by: Wendy
13 NOV 2015 - spied on Wendy's update feed. Thanks, Wendy. ...more
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
At the beginning of the book, before the story starts, Stratford states up front that he played a little fast and loose with the timeline of our story. Ava and Mary would not have been young friends, Mary being several years older in real life. Also, there are characters who are alive in this story which would be dead in history.

I appreciated this note to history, and also the recap at the end where Stratford gives us a little bit of the real history of the girls portrayed in the story.

And with
Initial Thoughts After Reading: Loved all the Dickens references, the nod to The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, and the fact it features all my favorite Victorian gothic / Romantic writers and notable people in history! So fun. It's like MG gothic detective fiction for beginners! I wish I had something like this growing up.

Full Review: Ada finds numbers in everything. It's how she understands her world. Mary is observant and a romantic, longing for adventure. When the two girls are thrust together
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fourteen year old Mary Godwin and eleven year old Ada Byron are both highly clever, unique young ladies...but that doesn’t mean they became BFFs right away. With her father dead and her mother off living in the country, Ada lives in her fancy London home with her housemaid and butler. When Ada gets a new tutor, Percy (aka Peebs), and new classmate, Mary, she is anything but excited. Ada rather hang out in her hot air balloon, invent amazing things, and conduct science experiments. But a rise in ...more
Ms. Yingling
May 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Lady Ada Byron's father is dead, and her mother has removed herself to the country, leaving Ada to run wild with very little supervision in her London home other than the staff, and the occasional visit from Mr. Babbage. When her nanny leaves to get married "Percy B. Snagsby" (aka Peebs) shows up to give her instruction, along with Mary Godwin, whose mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, died when she was young. Mary also makes the acquaintance of a well-read boy, Charles, on her daily carriage rides to ...more
Jude: The Epic Reader
This was super cute and enjoyable. I really enjoy reading about historic characters I know in a different view than they are usually portrayed. I really liked the contrast between Ada and Mary. Ada is very smart (as she should be) but also very much a brat but not in an unusual or annoying way. Mary was very levelheaded and calm. This story was not complex at all; it was very simple but entertaining. I probably will read the others in this series at some point but not right away.
Sep 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My two daughters (10 and 7) were a little apprehensive on this book. The historical setting and some of the vocabulary weren't things they were very familiar with. In no time, however, the kids attached themselves to the two main characters and had a fun time with the mystery! The author did a great job incorporating new words and their definitions in a way that felt natural to the characters and not forced. Often, my kids would ask what a word meant at the same time one of the characters would ...more
Heather Gunnell
This is such a fun and clever read. I especially appreciate that the author includes historical information at the end since the author admits that he changed things to better suit the story he wanted to tell.
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise is amazing (Ada Lovelace (yes that Ada Lovelace) and Mary Wollstonecraft (yes that Mary Wollstonecraft) team up to fight crime in an alternate, somewhat-steampunk London) and the execution is very, very good.
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A *very* rare (from me) 5 stars! I plowed through this book in a couple of hours, and it was spent in the spirit of sheer glee. Bravo, kind author, sir, and may I say, splendidly done. Fantastic!
Robin Stevens
Jan 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming historical mystery with two delightful detectives based on two of my real-life heroines, Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley. It ticks all of my boxes!
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love the premise of this first in a series of YA mysteries: Ada Byron (the daughter of Lord Byron) and Mary Godwin (the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft) form the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency as young girls. Ada is better known as Ada Lovelace, sometimes referred to as the world's first computer programmer and known as a brilliant mathematician, and Mary is better known as Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. The author takes slight liberties with the timeline, having the girls only 3 y ...more
Wow! This book was so much fun, as well as being a well-crafted mystery story for young adults. As an older-than-young-adult adult I too enjoyed the story.

I very much appreciated that Stratford including two women from history who, like too many women from history, are less well-known than their male counterparts, despite their great achievements. I thought the bending of the time continuum to allow these two women to meet as tweens/teens in this story was a clever device on Stratford's part. I
Heather Tranello
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm not typically a fan of historical fiction but I actually liked this one. I really loved learning about Ada and Mary and thought it was pretty neat to see them together, even if they weren't in reality. Great role models for my daughters and I'm excited to revisit this with them in another year or so when I think they'll be old enough to enjoy it. ...more
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, middle-grade
Loved this! I'm full of tigers! ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
The idea was great - young Ada Byron & Mary Shelley start a detective agency - but the story doesn't live up to expectations. ...more
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Jordan Stratford has been pronounced clinically dead, and was briefly mistakenly wanted by INTERPOL for international industrial espionage. He is an ordained priest, has won numerous sword fights, jaywalked across the streets of Paris, San Franciso, and Sao Paolo, and was once shot by a stray rubber bullet in a London riot. He lives on a tiny windswept Pacific island populated predominantly by rea ...more

Other books in the series

The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency (4 books)
  • The Case of the Girl in Grey (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, #2)
  • The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, #3)
  • The Case of the Perilous Palace (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency #4)

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