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For Young Readers

A history mystery that’s fun

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Recently, some of the most popular books among young readers have taken the form of historical fiction diaries. Series such as Dear America—which tells of different periods in our country’s past through the eyes of various teens and preteens—have earned a special place on the shelves of both reluctant and avid readers. Now there comes a new line of similar novels: namely, the Lady Grace Mystery series, which is penned by various authors and published by Random House books.
In this first installment, “Assassin,” we are introduced to the ostensible author of the mystery/adventure. Lady Grace Cavendish has served as a lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth I ever since Lady Grace’s mother died drinking poisoned wine that was meant for the queen herself. Now a favorite of the great Elizabeth, thirteen-year-old  Grace spends her days attending the royals and worrying about things such as inheritance and marriage. Normally, girls in this modern age would barely be able to fathom such a lifestyle, but Grace’s personality is not all frills and decorum; she has a sense of spunk that readers are sure to enjoy. While Grace’s sense of independence is far ahead of her time, it is portrayed in a cleverly subtle manner that reduces any possibility of seeming unrealistic. In fact, unlike many historical-fiction novels, Assassin goes out of its way to portray court life as accurately as possible, right down to the smallest and smelliest details. The author even utilizes Old English terms, which are neatly explained and catalogued in a glossary.
As Valentine’s Day draws near, so does the possibility of Grace being married to one of three suitors selected by the queen. She dreads the event, though she acknowledges that marriage is inevitable, and that she must obtain a husband who will manage her vast estates. However, after Grace makes her selection, things grow far more complicated: one of her suitors turns up murdered, with her choice betrothed as the prime suspect.
In order to clear his name, Grace embarks on an undercover investigation alongside her friends Masou and Ellie in order to determine the culprit of the crime. However, it soon becomes apparent that the murder is not the most sinister thing at work in the court. An imposter is on the loose, and it is up to Grace to identify him.
Assassin, for being part of a series that has every opportunity to succumb to mass-production and other low-quality gimmicks, is surprisingly thorough and intelligent, yet still maintains an air of approachability. It is a pleasant, interesting novel that has something for readers both novice and experienced.

Lindsey and Paige Oliver are ninth graders at Bulloch Academy. Their book review of a work aimed at readers ages 9-14 appears monthly in the Herald.
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