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Review: Palace of Spies

October 17, 2013

Title: Palace of Spies
Author: Sarah Zettel
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Format: eGalley

A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don’t.
Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she’s impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love...—via Goodreads

I had a really great time reading Palace of Spies.

It has a lot going for it: period drama, royalty, possible murder, crazy politics, coup plots, and a fearless teenage spy who infiltrates a palace and pretends to be someone else.

Okay, I’ll admit that that last part takes a fairly large amount of suspended belief, because, seriously, who actually looks and acts enough like a person to truly pass for them? (Except maybe Katy Perry and Zooey Deschanel. But even they don’t necessarily act alike. Though. Zooey is an actress so I’m sure being Katy Perry wouldn’t be that big of a stretch for her. Okay, I’m stopping this now.) But once you accept that, sure, perhaps in a palace where everyone is self-centered and more concerned about whether or not they’re going to be invaded by a perhaps legitimate heir to the throne than about whether or not the new queen’s handmaiden is actually who she says she is?

Nevermind. You get my point.

Once you’re past the whole idea of Peggy “being” someone without ever having met her, this book is a lot of fun. There’s tons of intrigue, on the romantical, character background, and political levels, a rising feeling of paranoia, suspense, and, finally, a whole lot of action throughout this book.

While reading this you take quite the journey with Peggy, an unapologetically smart, politically engaged young woman who, depending on how she plays her (literal) cards, could be the undoing of an entire royal family. She’s not necessarily the most elegant detective/spy around, but everyone has to start somewhere, right?

Overall, Palace of Spies is a delightful read full of the mannered, subtle unrest and upheaval that many royal families and entire countries were grappling with in 17th and 18th centuries.

Palace of Spies

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