Monday, May 06, 2013

Review: Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan

From Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Meg Fellowes is a wry, resourceful thief forced to join an elite group of female spies in Queen Elizabeth’s Court. There she must solve a murder, save the Crown, and resist the one thing that will become her greatest freedom - and her deadliest peril. For Meg and her fellow spies are not alone in their pursuit of the murderer who stalks Windsor Castle. A young, mysterious Spanish courtier, Count Rafe de Martine, appears at every turn in the dark and scandal-filled corridors of the Queen’s summer palace. And though secrets and danger are Meg’s stock-in-trade, she’s never bargained on falling in love ...

My Rating: Wavering between 3 and 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: You know those books that although you liked, still disappointed you because you were expecting more from them? Well, that was my experience with Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan.

When we first meet Meg, she’s a thief who’s looking forward to leading the street thieves of her acting troupe and hoping to eventually have enough money to live the life that she wants. One mistake, however, results in Meg ending up as a spy for Queen Elizabeth I or risk having the other members of the Golden Rose troupe branded as thieves as well. For a book involving thieves and spies, Maid of Secrets wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be.

I also didn’t feel like I got to know the characters completely. It just felt like something was missing to make them memorable, and this stopped me from really caring about them or becoming fully invested in the romance (which I thought could have used a bit more spark). Two secondary characters that I did find interesting though were Rafe and James. We know right from the start that there’s more to Rafe than meets the eye, but I think the same may be true for James too. And, although I thought there would be a love triangle, that wasn’t the case at least in this book.

As a historical fantasy, I think Maid of Secrets could have been better written to make the historical aspects not so dry. With some historical fantasies, you just absorb knowledge about the time period without even realizing it. I don’t feel like that can be said about Maid of Secrets because McGowan would give details about people or situations rather than showing the reader things through her story. 

Maid of Secrets will be released by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers tomorrow! 

Comments About the Cover: I’m a big fan of weapons being featured on a cover – especially if it’s the cover of a fantasy novel – because it makes me excited about the possibility of plenty of action and violence. I also like how the model has a secretive smile on her face. It’s as if she knows something that we’re not privy to, and that makes me want to know what her secret is. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Simon and Schuster) for free via Edelweiss.


  1. This one has never really caught my interest, but I'm glad you liked it well enough to give it a 3, at least. Sometimes it's hard to pinpoint why characters (or romances) aren't as memorable as others. I guess some authors just have that ability and others don't. I'll probably skip this one for now, but thank for the great review!

  2. Oh, dang...I really hoped that the historical aspect of this story would shine through, but it sounds like that was almost a downfall. I'm sure I'll still read it, but gosh...I was hoping for a stellar review. Great, honest take on it though!

  3. Aw, sorry to hear this one disappointed! There are a lot of ingredients in the synopsis that make me think I'd enjoy it (thieves! murder! romance!), but your review makes me wary, lol. Sounds like it's similar in premise but not as good as the Agency series by Y.S. Lee. A pity the historical details aren't incorporated naturally into the storyline :( Good to know I should lower my expectations if/when I read it!

  4. I was curious about this one, but now I'm bummed on the dry historical detail. I would have expected more action too. I think I might skip this one for now and see if it gets better before investing in this series. Thanks for your honest opinion, Z!

  5. I haven't heard of this one before Z. I'm sorry the characters let you down and it wasn't as exciting as you thought it would be. Great review though :)

  6. I feel you, I would have had high expectations going into this one, too, because it's a historical fantasy about spies and thieves! I mean, how awesome does that sound? It's a shame because that could have been so awesome. Ah, oh well, I guess I'll be skipping this one - thanks for the helpful review!

  7. Bummer about the characters not being overly memorable, I know just what you mean. I need them to have a little some extra that makes them stand out amidst all the other YA characters out there, and sometimes simply liking them just isn't enough. Thanks for your thoughts Z!

  8. Aww, I'm sorry you didn't totally fall for it. I have to say it sounds EPIC, so I'm holding out hope that it might be one I'll enjoy.

  9. Ah, yes, the historical parts of historical fantasy have to be skillfully delivered, otherwise they end up suffocating the plot. I'm sorry this wasn't as good as you expected, and not too memorable either, but at least there were some things you liked.
    Great review.


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