Sunday, May 5, 2013

Review: Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan

Hardcover, 416 pages
Expected publication: May 7th 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher
Format: E-book 

Blurb via 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…

Author Bio via Goodreads:

Jennifer McGowan writes Young Adult romance full of swash and buckle. Her first novel, MAID OF SECRETS, debuts in Spring, 2013 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Age: Royal Secret

Came From: A small town in northern Ohio

Became a Maid of Honor: After bringing her tale of spygirls to the noble city, and winning the favor of the great house of Simon (& Schuster).

Special Skill: Matrix-like reflexes, superior strength, fabulous wit… okay, ah – we’ll get back to you on that.

My Review:  
This book, you guys. THIS BOOK. It was historical fiction at it's best. I know that sometimes people are weary of historical fiction. They might find it boring or drowned in too many historical details, but that is not the case with Maid of Secrets. As it's name indicates, this book is about a girl who is one of the several young women who are at the service of Queen Elizabeth in her court. And this court, as it's protagonist, Meg, are shrouded in secrets. And it was really fun to read about. The pacing in this novel is really great. So easy to get into that you almost forget that it's historical fiction, you almost feel like this book is like reading an episode of Gossip Girl on paper that just happens to take place during a historical period in time. That's how much drama it had, and the fun kind because there is just so much mystery around the crown of the famed Queen Elizabeth who never took a husband and had quite the prosperous reign in England.

Let's talk about our female lead in this book. Meg. I have to say, that she has one of the most unique voices in Young Adult literature that I have ever encountered. She is a female character that stands out, tremendously. She is incredibly sharp and has street smarts by the bucket-loads because not only was she a sort of street actress, but a thief as well. In the court of Queen Elizabeth, she becomes a spy of sorts and her powers of observation are insane. The amount of detail that this girl can pick up on are amazing. And Meg is incredibly willful and set on living her life in freedom. She is no damsel in distress and despite being a thief, you can tell that she doesn't like living a life of deceit that just increments as she is employed in the royal court. What is so interesting about her journey, is that we get a character study on how emotionally taxing it is on a person to be constantly submerged in manipulation and games. It can almost drive any person to the edge, and poor Meg has to navigate her way through that in this novel and it was quite interesting to read about.

The secondary characters in this novel are also very well-developed. Which to me always just enriches a novel. To not only be invested in a interesting protagonist, but in the cast of characters around them as well, and their individual stories. The girls that accompany Meg in the court, are all so unique, I would say. We have Beatrice, the gorgeous and manipulative, mean type of girl. We have Anna, the bit innocent but brilliant type of scholar. Just to name a few. There is Cecil, the man that trains these girls to work for Queen Elizabeth as spies of sorts, who is just so manipulative and demanding. Queen Elizabeth herself, is also quite the character. She does not disappoint. She is wise beyond her years, with an incredible strength and regality and there are just so many plots to dethrone her or sabotage her in the novel, as was the case in reality, and it's all so interesting to read about.

And now onto the romance in this book. What I loved about romance in this book is that it does not overwhelm the story. It's not the focal point. It's there, but there is just so much intrigue, games, and suspense going on, that the romance is kind of a balancer in the story, it brings in just the right amount of emotional drama that you need. Between the girls in the court having crushes, or trying to gain suitors, or avoid arranged marriages, you have quite a wide range of romance going on the story. What's interesting about Meg, our female lead's love life, is that a Spanish courtier named Rafe grabs her attention. Thing is, Meg is terrified of marriage. She is just so used to being independent, that love and marriage are not a priority, but she can't help but be attracted to the sly, charming, and gorgeous Rafe. I thought it was quite refreshing that she wasn't the type of girl to be swooning over a guy, and having that on her mind all the time, if it happened, it caught her by surprise, and it was fun to follow her journey.

Overall, I think that Maid of Secrets, does live up to it's name. This book is full of secrets and mystery and it really does keep the reader emotionally invested in the characters because you just are kind of on the edge of your seat, wondering how on earth these characters are gonna survive such an incredibly complex setting, as is the court of Queen Elizabeth. I loved this book. I need a sequel. I could so see this series as a fun period drama on TV for young people out there who might not be the biggest history fans, but who love drama, because these books are full of it, and the good kind and it really does catch your attention.

 My rating: 4.5/5 
Giveaway Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I've read 3 different positive reviews for this book today, so I'm definitely hoping I can give it a shot now. I'm glad to hear the romance is handled well. It's always a relief when it doesn't overshadow the main plot. Lovely review. :)

    1. Really? That is so awesome. And thanks so much, Sam! :)

  2. Gorgeous review, Jennifer! Describing this as Gossip Girl in the Elizabethan era cannot be more spot-on :)

    Thanks so much for joining the tour!

    Glad that you enjoyed the book ;)

    1. Thanks so much, Sel. I appreciate that :)

      And happy to be on the tour. It's been fun!

  3. Ah, awesome review Jennifer :D I'm unsure if I would like this book, but oh. It does sound so amazing. I'm glad you loved it :) Also, thank you for the amazing giveaway. <3 I have not read the book, but I want to :) I think my favorite must be The Vespertine. If it counts ;p
    Thank you for commenting on my mailbox. <3
    Love, Carina @ Carina's Books

    1. Thanks so much, Carina! <3

      I do hope that you get to check it out. It was a really fun read for me. Ohhh, the Vespertine (so much cover love for that one). Glad to hear it's a fave for you.

      And thanks for stopping by! :)

  4. Awesome review, Jen!! I haven't heard of this book, but it sounds pretty awesome! I'm not a fan on historical fictions, but you make me interested!

    Great review!!

    Magen Corrie
    ~Corrie the Book Crazed Girl

    1. Glad to hear that, Magen! :)

      And thank you, girl. =)

  5. I usually don´t read historical fiction but this books sounds really good.
    Great review!

    1. My favorite historical fiction novel so far is Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers.

    2. Thanks so much, Adriana.

      I've heard Grave Mercy is awesome. Dying to read that.

      If you can, definitely check this one out. It's a great book. :)

      Thank you for stopping by!

  6. I was thinking about this quiet some, and this definitively won me over. Thanks, Jen. :*
    I don't read that much historical, but Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers was awesome, looking forward to have time for the sequel! Other than that, I read only by German author Rebecca Gablé, and it's not YA.

    1. Thanks so much! <3

      I'm so glad to hear that, Caro!

      Let me know what you think of it, if you do get to check it out some time.

      Oh, really? I'm gonna have to read Grave Mercy eventually. I hear it's awesome.


  7. Seems a very interesting book to read! The plot is very different from other novels. I´ll give it a try :D

    1. It really is different and I do hope that you give it a try. And that if you do, you like it! :)

      Thanks so much for reading and stopping by, Dany! :)

  8. I hadn't heard of this author before but I do like the sound of the book :)

    1. Glad to hear that :)

      Thanks so much for stopping by! <3

  9. Love that premise!! And that setting. Very cool. So glad you liked this one so much! I haven't heard too much about this one so far, so it was nice to read your thoughts. I admit, it does sound right up my alley, too. Meg sounds awesome and so does the romance!

    1. I'm so glad to hear that because I really liked this one.

      Meg was an awesome heroine. She really was.

      Thanks so much for reading! :)

  10. I don't know how I could have put this any better! Maid of Secrets was my first historical fiction and I loved how it was fun, thrilling and full of well-paced tension-- Gossip Girls of Elizabethan times xD I loved Meg's character as well, can't wait to find out what else is in store for the Maid of Honours!

    Alicia @ Summer Next Top Story

    1. Yay. I'm so glad you liked it, too. Thank you :)

      I couldn't agree more. This was a fun read.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, btw! :)


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