Thursday, November 8, 2012

Book Review: Princess Elizabeth's Spy

Author: Susan Elia MacNeal
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Bantam
Series: Maggie Hope Mystery # 2

Susan Elia MacNeal introduced the remarkable Maggie Hope in her acclaimed debut, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary. Now Maggie returns to protect Britain’s beloved royals against an international plot—one that could change the course of history.

As World War II sweeps the continent and England steels itself against German attack, Maggie Hope, former secretary to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, completes her training to become a spy for MI-5. Spirited, strong-willed, and possessing one of the sharpest minds in government for mathematics and code-breaking, she fully expects to be sent abroad to gather intelligence for the British front. Instead, to her great disappointment, she is dispatched to go undercover at Windsor Castle, where she will tutor the young Princess Elizabeth in math. Yet castle life quickly proves more dangerous—and deadly—than Maggie ever expected. The upstairs-downstairs world at Windsor is thrown into disarray by a shocking murder, which draws Maggie into a vast conspiracy that places the entire royal family in peril. And as she races to save England from a most disturbing fate, Maggie realizes that a quick wit is her best defense, and that the smallest clues can unravel the biggest secrets, even within her own family.

I passed! Maggie thought with a glow of pride. So where am I going? Dropped behind enemy lines in France? Undercover in Germany? Her pulse quickened with excitement.” – Finished Copy pg. 20

“She’d worked hard. She’d learned how to shoot Sten and Bren guns and hit targets. She’d learned to transmit Morse code, jump out of a plane, and kill with various implements- a pen, a dinner knife, her bare hands.” – Finished Copy pg. 20

Fantastic, Maggie thought. It’s not bad enough the Germans are bombing us nightly, Ladies-in-Waiting are being beheaded, and the Royal Family is in danger-I need to fend off rabid corgi dogs too?” – Finished Copy pg. 99

I absolutely love this series of books. I love the characters, the mystery, the setting, and my list could just go on and on. Susan MacNeal has a knack for transporting readers directly in the turmoil and destruction that is being caused by World War II and the Nazi regime. Even though this is such a devastating time for England, historically, Susan puts the reader at ease and even provokes a cozy feel with some of the scenes and settings that she describes. I love this idea of a historical fiction mystery because it takes two genres that I love and brings them to me in one serving! Amazing!

Let’s talk Maggie Hope! I love the heroine of the Maggie Hope Mystery Series and I wish that there were more characters written like her. She is beautiful and extremely smart. She has a cunning and highly charming sense of style, character, and most importantly, humor! I love being beside her as she solves these mysteries. She is a great narrator and her voice is very enlightening and dependable. Even when I was in the middle of the crime scene I felt at ease with Maggie; there is no mystery that she can’t crack. Her character is developed so fully and successfully that readers really feel like they are a part of any current mission that she is on. There is absolutely nothing that I would change about Maggie!

There is a lot going on and a lot to unravel in this book. However, it is not overdone in any sense or fashion. The point of view shifts at times, but I felt that it was very necessary for the flow of the story. Each point of view shift is extremely easy to keep up with and as I said before, they are all vital for the full unveiling of the evil plot that is at work! The mystery is very well written, as I knew it would be. It is enough to keep you asking questions all throughout, which I love. If I am constantly posed with questions and eagerly turning each page, then that is a mystery well written.

If you love any tidbit of history at all, especially European history, then this is a book that you will definitely want to check out. Even though the story is fictional, some of the characters, places, and events are not. That fact made this story and its counterparts all the more relatable. We are taken into places like Windsor Castle and actually get to know Princess Elizabeth, who is quite lovely. I loved all the descriptions of the castle and even loved spending a day in the lives of the young princesses of England. Susan includes incredible details of everything that Maggie sees and does. That means so much to me as a reader because it keeps me connected to the story the whole way through! I cannot wait for the next book in this series and I am counting down the days until April 2013!

***A lot of hugs and love to the publishers at Bantam as well as Susan MacNeal for providing me with a  copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***


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