Review: The Agency: A Spy in the House – Y.S. Lee

The greatest thing about book clubs is that it opens you up to a world of books you might not otherwise pick up, enter Y.S. Lee’s “The Agency: A Spy in the House“. What an outstanding young adult novel filled with suspense, mystery and a little bit of romance. We’re first introduced to Mary Lang when she’s 12 years old and up to no good. After losing her family, she is on a fast track to nowhere and winds up getting into enough trouble to land her in jail and ultimately will end in her being hanged. After her judgement is announced, the world turns black and she wakes up in a place she’s never been before with women she’s never seen in her life, where everyone is promising her that she’s destined for a better life and a second chance. This magical place is called ‘Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls’ and it’s an academy that educates young girls who are in need of direction.

The story then jumps to a now 17-year-old Mary who has grown into an independent (and obedient) young woman. You can sense that her gratitude towards the Academy is endless and she respects and admires her teachers. That’s why when two of her teachers bring her into a room by herself and ask her to join the Agency, which in turn is what the Academy has been all along, unbeknownst to Mary. The Agency is a secret investigation team that finds criminals and people up to no good and ensure that their handed over to the police for justice.

They always knew Mary was different and their trust in her is endless. After quickly proving that she’s up for whatever mission they send her on, she is handed her first investigation – to live with the Thorold family and find out if the father, Henry Thorold is indeed smuggling antiques from India. She is used as a ploy for the Thorold daughter, Angelica as a paid companion. She is renamed Mary Quinn to protect the Agency.

Once in the home, she sets right to work, although facing difficulty in connecting with Angelica, who proves to be bossy and unreasonable at times. That doesn’t stop Mary from searching for anything that might link Mr. Thorold to a crime she’s sure is being committed. She searches high and low on the first couple of nights and quickly gets caught snooping by another person trying to dig up dirt on the family, enter the irritable, but handsome James Easton. His brother is pursuit of Angelica’s heart, but before they become an item, James is in hunt of any kind of information that might prove why their families should not be joined. Mary comes up with an excuse to explain her reason for looking through drawers. As both are searching for something that proves the family is guilty of something, they decide to team up together even though most of the time they are arguing with one another.

We’re whisked into a Victorian world that is filled with a caste system and lies. This novel takes you on a rollercoaster ride throughout the entire 352 pages of “who done it” accusations and “finger-pointing”. Through it all, the reader connects to Mary Quinn and her strong and powerful voice that she always makes sure is heard. While on assignment, she also stumbles into a few mysteries that involve her past and her family. There are many unanswered questions in this topic, but this is likely why Y.S. Lee has created a series surrounding Mary’s adventures as an investigator. The newest installment to the series is in stores now and it’s called, “The Agency: The Body at the Tower“. I know I’ll be picking it up to find out what happens to Mary on her next spy mission.

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