We seem to have a fascination with young ladies who are actually detectives or spies and it is not something new; although I am compiling a blog post for some of the latest additions to the genre. It goes back to characters such as Nancy Drew and I am sure that there are many more sleuths to be discovered. Over the last few years we have been delighted by authors such as Katherine Woodfine, Robin Stevens, Laura Wood and Sarah Todd Taylor and I am happy to say that this new title is a perfect addition to this group of five star authors. I also apologise to the many other authors who I have not named, but whose work I admire and will hopefully include in other blog posts.
Winifred Weatherby is determined to be an inventor and follow in her father’s footsteps. Even though she is only fourteen she is already helping him and is even making significant improvements to some of his ideas. However, when her father disappears, Winnie is determined to find him, even though she is in danger herself. Then she is recruited to a secret organization of young women (housed at her school) and they are charged with trying to discover the identity of the mysterious “Mr Magpie”, who is threatening Queen Victoria. What follows is a fantastically exciting adventure, with a multitude of twists and turns involving the two main interlinked plots. The only questions are who is Mr Magpie and what does he want to achieve with his the threat to the Queen, and can Winnie find her father (together with his invention called a ‘Telautograph’)?
This has proved to be an absolute delight to read. It is full of intrigue and adventure and the fast pace of the action keeps the reader focused on what is going on; it is a real roller-coaster of a ride. The characters are well-drawn and very individual; I particularly love Winnie and her feisty and determined attitude. We also have the inclusion of members of the royal family, which allows for a little bit of fun in highlighting the often fraught relationships. What really comes across is the attitude towards women and the belief that they are not capable of running their own lives and having much in the way of intelligent thought. However, the central characters in this story totally disprove such antiquated and sexist ideas (although it still seem to survive to this day in some areas). There is a real sense of female empowerment and a desire to prove that everyone should be able to follow their interests and skills. Winnie’s fascination with science is particularly relevant in a period where scientific achievement is at the forefront of developing a modern world. I do hope that we see further adventures for this intrepid group of young ladies as they are going to have a huge group of followers.
Alison D Stegert
Alison writes stories of many genres for children of all ages, but historical fiction for readers aged 10 -14 is her sweet spot.
Born and raised in the US, Ali has long called Australia home. She’s lucky to live in Gabbi Gabbi Country, the beautiful Sunshine Coast.
Literary Agent Lucy Irvine of PFD Agency, London, represents Ali’s writing.