Monday, January 20, 2014

Mini Review: Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel

Release Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
Pages: 368
Received: ARC from publisher, via NetGalley
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


This is one of those books that's nice. Light reading, fun enough plot, likable enough main character, ok enough romance, but nothing that really sticks out as amazing. At least for me.

I could never fully believe that so many people actually wouldn't recognize Peggy's half-baked impersonation of Fran. I mean, I know they wore lots of make up and stuff, but, really, she's a totally different person! She also wasn't coached all that well on Fran's life (mostly because Fran kept a whole lot of secrets). I'm shocked she wasn't called out immediately.

But, fine, I can suspend my disbelief and just go with it for the sake of a fun story. And I guess Palace of Spies did have a fun story. Mostly. Peggy needed to figure out what secrets and schemes Fran had gotten herself mixed up in while also trying to figure out the motives of her three "benefactors" and all of that snooping was fun.

I was totally on board with these mysteries, but I wish they had been executed a little better. I'm still not one hundred percent sure I get exactly what's going on. Not so much because the information wasn't given, but more because of the way it was given. Progress unraveling the mystery came in fits and starts that did not make for a smooth narrative. I had a hard time settling in with the flow of the story and a few reveals lost impact with their blink-and-you'll-miss-it delivery.

But I did like Peggy. And I did like her relationship with her cousin (the dog scene was fabulous), and I enjoyed her sparring with the mean girl. I like the concept of the trio of  benefactors and I'm curious to learn more about them (and disappointed they're still as much of a mystery as they are). I liked the non-standard historical setting of George I and James the Pretender (though I would have liked more historical details considering the time period isn't as well know).

Bottom line

What is it with all these rougher YA books lately? A little tightening of the narrative would have done wonders. Still, I do recommend Palace of Spies for readers looking for light historical mysteries with spunky main characters. It's a fast read, despite the page length.

This is probably part one of a series, though it works well enough as a standalone (albeit one with a few loose ends).

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Palace of Spies that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this?
You might like:

 Click on the pictures to go to my reviews.


  1. Glad to know these are of a lighter flare. I'll recommend this to some of my tween/teen readers but I don't think it's for me. I would've gotten really irritated with the characters and the stupid Clark Kent disguise.

    1. Teens are good, but tweens might not be suitable for all. There are adult relations. Not graphic, but enough to bug some parents of tweens. Ugh, yes, "stupid Clark Kent disguise" is a perfect way to describe it.

  2. Nice seems like a good descriptive.
    They look kind of cute, actually but I don't feel like rushing out to buy it, :P

    1. That's pretty much how I feel, cute, but not worth rushing out and buying. Maybe if your library gets a copy.

  3. I like that this makes for light reading but didn't enjoy Zettel's Dust Girl at all. I feel like I should probably therefore pass on this if it wasn't very memorable.

    1. I haven't read Dust Girl, but if it helps I have NO interest in reading that book but I liked this one enough.

  4. Sometimes light reads are nice. Every now and then I get in the mood for one myself. I think I've seen this one around, so I will keep it in mind the next time I want something fast and fun

    1. Yup, this would be a great book to read when you're in the mood for something light.


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