From the Montmaray Journals series , Vol. 2

Having narrowly escaped the Nazi bombing of their miniscule island kingdom, the young impoverished royal family of Montmaray is living in exile in England with their very wealthy aunt (A Brief History of Montmaray, 2008). Their lives have changed dramatically, as they are thrown unprepared into the world of upper-class society. But they also become embroiled in all the confusion of the perilous 1930s, speaking out against Fascism and appeasement and aiding children escaping from the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, all the while attempting to get help in wresting their home back from the Germans. Princess Sophie’s voice is true and clear in her journal, with syntax and tone spot on, as she writes with compassion of the upheaval, changing family dynamics and her own emotional growth. The novel is, in Sophie's words, a combination of the “Awful Bits” and “things that successfully distract one from the Awful Bits” in a world that “has been wound up as far as it could go.” The lively, charming characters meet challenges with pluck and ingenuity as well as a great deal of humor. Will modern readers get all the references to the real events and people? Perhaps not, but it won't matter, because the information is woven seamlessly into the plot. Multilayered and engrossing, Cooper’s tale alternates between frothy fun and heartbreaking seriousness with utter mastery. (author's note) (Historical fiction. YA)

Pub Date: April 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-85865-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging


Audrey Rose Wadsworth, 17, would rather perform autopsies in her uncle’s dark laboratory than find a suitable husband, as is the socially acceptable rite of passage for a young, white British lady in the late 1800s.

The story immediately brings Audrey into a fractious pairing with her uncle’s young assistant, Thomas Cresswell. The two engage in predictable rounds of “I’m smarter than you are” banter, while Audrey’s older brother, Nathaniel, taunts her for being a girl out of her place. Horrific murders of prostitutes whose identities point to associations with the Wadsworth estate prompt Audrey to start her own investigation, with Thomas as her sidekick. Audrey’s narration is both ponderous and polemical, as she sees her pursuit of her goals and this investigation as part of a crusade for women. She declares that the slain aren’t merely prostitutes but “daughters and wives and mothers,” but she’s also made it a point to deny any alignment with the profiled victims: “I am not going as a prostitute. I am simply blending in.” Audrey also expresses a narrow view of her desired gender role, asserting that “I was determined to be both pretty and fierce,” as if to say that physical beauty and liking “girly” things are integral to feminism. The graphic descriptions of mutilated women don’t do much to speed the pace.

Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging . (Historical thriller. 15-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-27349-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A strong beginning that will leave readers hungry for more.


Subterfuge is the name of the game at an elite and secretive prep school.

Seventeen-year-old Italian-American November was born in August. Though she tragically lost her mother at age 6, she has an enviable life in small-town Connecticut, a strong relationship with her dad, and a mentor in her Aunt Jo. That is until, due to a family emergency, her father sends her away to a covert boarding school. Instead of mathematics and literature, students at the Academy Absconditi learn how to wield weapons both physical and psychological, and history is taught so they might manipulate the future. Guileless November quickly allies herself with her studious Egyptian roommate, Layla, and Layla’s handsome brother, Ash. When a fellow student turns up dead, November must expose the truth, including her own connection to the victim and the influential Council of Families, while navigating a minefield of misinformation. The first-person narration is unreliable due to the protagonist’s ignorance of the society in which she moves, while surreptitious behavior by the supporting characters forces the reader to be as wary as November ought to be. Revelations are well-paced, though astute readers are apt to pick up several of the dropped clues (but some are dropped and not resolved). Red herrings or possible threads that will be woven into future plots? Anything is possible in this world of cloaks and daggers.

A strong beginning that will leave readers hungry for more. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-57908-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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