Book Review: A Spy in the House

Book Review: A Spy in the HouseA Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee
Series: The Agency #1
Published by Candlewick Press on March 9th 2010
Pages: 352

Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past. 


The first novel in the Agency series, A Spy in the House, is a brilliant debut that wowed me with its honesty and originality. Where as many novels seem to focus either on one genre or the other, Lee shines in perfectly combining both a historical fiction novel with an amazing mystery novel.

As a bookworm, I have read plenty of historical novel, and to be honest, the Victorian period is one of my favorites. So when I got my hands on A Spy in the House, I was very curious to see how Lee would present her Victorian society. It seemed like only after a few pages, I was in love with how Lee represented every detail. It is like the fair city of London had come to life. Lee left no detail untouched. From the confines of the social structure to even the smell of the city itself, all the details are beautifully described. This can be said for the characters as well.

Mary is quite simply amazing. She is witty, clever, and downright hilarious at times. I loved following her on her antics… which were never in short supply. As for the other characters, like Mary, they were fabulous. They were varied and very detailed. By the end of the novel it felt like I had made a new set of friends.

A Spy in the House completely took my by surprise. It is a novel that is very easy to follow and will keep you on the edge of your seat to figure out who the bad guy is. Just keep in mind that appearances can be deceiving and trust no one. 

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7 responses to “Book Review: A Spy in the House

  1. Christina T

    I loved this one and I’m looking forward to reading The Body at the Tower. I am glad you enjoyed the book too! Nice review.

  2. Raspberry

    Loved this too – gave it an A- I think, and hurried to read the second, but I’m waiting for YS Lee to get back to me with her interview before I post that review.
    Oh – and I have a giveaway where you can win this or the sequel on my blog if you need a copy. 🙂

  3. Raspberry

    I loved this book. I’ve also read and reviewed her sequel which includes an interview with Lee if you’re interested.

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