I am well behind on some reviews from things I read this Spring and realized I had read enough mysteries that we could do a themed review post, so here we are! For some reason, I have found mysteries really compelling during this quarantine time, and find myself reaching for them more often than I used to. Here are three that I really enjoyed — definitely share some of your favorites in the comments! I need more!
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All expressed opinions are my own and do not reflect any stance or position held by the author or publisher. This did not affect my rating or review in any way.Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on July 21, 2020
A YA historical fantasy set in nineteenth-century Denmark, where secrets can kill and magic is a deadly gift.
For Marit Olsen, magic is all about strategy: it flows freely through her blood, but every use leaves behind a deadly, ice-like build-up within her veins called the Firn. Marit knows how dangerous it is to let too much Firn build up—after all, it killed her sister—and she has vowed never to use her thread magic. But when Eve, a fellow orphan whom Marit views like a little sister, is adopted by the wealthy Helene Vestergaard, Marit will do anything to stay by Eve’s side. She decides to risk the Firn and uses magic to secure a job as a seamstress in the Vestergaard household.
But Marit has a second, hidden agenda: her father died while working in the Vestergaards’ jewel mines—and it might not have been an accident. The closer Marit gets to the truth about the Vestergaard family, the more she realizes she and everyone she’s come to love are in danger. When she finds herself in the middle of a treacherous deception that goes all the way up to the king of Denmark, magic may be the only thing that can save her—if it doesn’t kill her first.
I read this one all the way back in April, but am definitely still thinking about it! I really enjoyed this read. First, it was incredibly unique — a historical mixed with a fantasy mixed with a mystery. I love a genre-bending book, and this was definitely one of those! In this novel, we follow Marit, a girl with magic in her veins, as she tries to solve the mystery both of what happened to her father and how she can keep her magic from killing her, as it killed her sister. Her father worked for the Vestergaard family in their mines, and for as long as she can remember, she has wanted revenge. But then a girl who is basically family to her is adopted by the Vestergaard family and she needs to decide where her loyalties lie and how far she will go for the truth.
I thought this was a great read — definitely kept me interested the entire way. I really enjoyed the upstairs/downstairs dynamic between the Vestergaard family and the servants, as well as the concept of found family and how important that can be in our lives. The mystery was well-paced and mixed with just enough background about the fantasy elements to seem realistic. Plus, I loved the historical setting — you don’t read too many novels set in 1800s Denmark, and this was really enjoyable. The writing was incredibly descriptive and I felt I was really there among the gowns and jewels and the cold. Absolutely worth picking up! I rated it four stars.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All expressed opinions are my own and do not reflect any stance or position held by the author or publisher. This did not affect my rating or review in any way.The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison
on June 23, 2020
A fantasy novel of alternate 1880s London, where killers stalk the night and the ultimate power is naming.
This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting.
In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings under a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.
Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.
As you might know from our interview with the author, Katherine Addison is one of my very favorite authors, so I was so thrilled to have the chance to read her newest book. The Angel of the Crows wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but once I realized what I was reading, I truly loved it.
Basically, this is an alternate reality retelling of Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock is an angel. There are all kinds of crazy fantastical creatures in this story and haunting London, and Addison uses the Holmes tales to their best effect, I think — which is using your assumptions related to those stories to surprise the reader at every turn. I don’t want to give too much away here, since I think part of the fun is seeing how these twists and turns unfold, but there were multiple times while reading that I literally gasped out loud. I thoroughly enjoyed the world and, in fact, my only complaint is that I wanted a bit more development of the alternate London. The inner workings of the political world of the angels seemed so fascinating and yet we only got to scratch the surface. I wanted more!
I also really appreciated that this was overall a positive novel, which seems funny to say when it’s mostly about solving murders. But one thing I love about Addison’s works is that they always seem to come from a positive, optimistic place and this one was no different.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. I think if you know going in that it is a fantasy spin on a Sherlock Holmes retelling, and if that appeals to you, you are going to love it.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All expressed opinions are my own and do not reflect any stance or position held by the author or publisher. This did not affect my rating or review in any way.The Secrets of Wishtide (A Laetitia Rodd Mystery #1) by Kate Saunders
Published by Bloomsbury USA on September 13, 2016
Mrs. Laetitia Rodd, aged fifty-two, is the widow of an archdeacon. Living in Hampstead with her confidante and landlady, Mrs. Benson, who once let rooms to John Keats, Laetitia makes her living as a highly discreet private investigator.
Her brother, Frederick Tyson, is a criminal barrister living in the neighboring village of Highgate with his wife and ten children. Frederick finds the cases, and Laetitia solves them using her arch intelligence, her iron discretion, and her immaculate cover as an unsuspecting widow. When Frederick brings to her attention a case involving the son of the well-respected, highly connected Sir James Calderstone, Laetitia sets off for Lincolnshire to take up a position as the family’s new governess—quickly making herself indispensable.
But the seemingly simple case—looking into young Charles Calderstone’s “inappropriate” love interest—soon takes a rather unpleasant turn. And as the family’s secrets begin to unfold, Laetitia discovers the Calderstones have more to hide than most.
I picked this one up on audio, actually, right in the middle of a terrible reading slump and I LOVED it. This is a murder mystery solved by an incredibly smart British widow. It’s not quite a cozy and not quite a dark mystery — somewhere right in the middle.
First of all, if you enjoy audiobooks, definitely check this one out on audio. Anna Bentinck reads the novel in such a delightful way and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I recognized all the different characters in the way that she portrayed their voices, and I enjoyed every minute of listening to this one.
Overall, this novel was just a really fun read — I loved the Victorian-era manners, the lead character was an absolute joy, and the mystery kept me guessing right up until the end. It’s definitely a fun read and one that you might check out if you want something not too deep that feels at once familiar and new. This is definitely recommended for Agatha Christie or Rhys Bowen fans.
What About you?
What have you read lately that you recommend? Any mystery novels for me to check out? I look forward to chatting with you in the comments!