After nearly hanging for thievery, Mary Quinn is rescued and educated at Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. She receives an excellent education, but is unsatisfied with her options for employment in Victorian England. When she expresses her feelings, Mary learns the school is a cover for The Agency, a top secret group of female investigators who assist the Scotland Yard in solving mysteries. Mary joins the Agency and begins her first assignment.
Posing as a female companion for the only daughter of a rich merchant family, Mary seeks to find solid evidence for the family’s suspected illegal smuggling. Mary uncovers secrets, but also makes unexpected friends and enemies while completing her first assignment. This is a light mystery, pleasantly low on violence with a nice historical feel. While not entirely believable, the story is entertaining and the characters are well-written.
On the way to Nottingham Fair, Robin is waylaid by a group of bullies. In self defense, he shoots and kills one of the king’s foresters. This act sends Robin into hiding in Sherwood with a few of his friends. As word spreads, more Saxons displaced by harsh Roman overlords join him in the forest and for survival, they begin robbing Norman noblemen.
The Outlaws of Sherwood follows many of the well-known aspects of the Robin Hood legend, but gives depth and complexity to all its characters. Robin is not a perfect archer, nor the carefree outlaw we know. He is a man forced into exile and consumed with anxiety over his responsibility to keep a growing band of outlaws safe. He loves Marian, but fights with her constantly in an attempt to keep her safe and away from him camp. For lovers of the Robin Hood tales, this brings that story to life with much more detail and reality than most fireside stories. A good read for legend loving readers.
Recommended for ages 11 and up
When I picked up this book, I expected a Jack London-like outdoor adventure featuring a boy, wolves, and survival. However, this book is more hints of The Call of the Wild with a supernatural, ghost story twist. Authors Golden and Lebbon place a young Jack London in the Yukon searching for gold, but they draw from the myths and legends of that area and time period to add to their story. Jack’s story has wilderness adventures with a spooky, surreal tinge to them.
Although it was different than I expected, The Wild is a good read for teen boys who enjoy frightening, but not too gory stories. The story is fast-paced and intriguing, but doesn’t rely on detailed descriptions of blood and gore for its spine chilling aspects. Jack is a strong character with a good head on his shoulders, a sense of loyalty and a desire to see justice done. This is an interesting and different kind of read for adventure lovers.
Recommended for ages—13 and up.
Leviathan begins at the start of World War I, but in a world very different from what we know. The Germans, known as Klankers, have technologically advanced war machines. The Britains, known as Darwinists, fight with genetically engineered war animals. In a genre also known as Steampunk, Westerfeld creates wonderful characters and an original rendering of WWI.
In his series we follow Derryn, a girl disguised as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service. She soon meets Alek, heir to the throne of a country that no longer wants him to exist. These two characters develop an unlikely friendship as they are drawn into the battles and politics of an alternate World War I.
With an engaging hero and heroine, Leviathan is a great read for all teenagers. It is especially interesting for historical fiction readers to compare actual and alternate histories.
When Meg Finn meets an unexpected, early death, she ends up trapped in limbo. Her scale between heaven and hell is exactly even. To fix this problem, she is sent back to earth to help old Lowrie McCall fulfill his wish list before he dies. With this service, she hopes to tip her balance toward heaven, but she receives another reward—the friendship of a cantankerous and wonderful old man. Colfer’s humor makes this story both delightful and touching.
In the Young Bond Series, we see how a teenage Bond becomes the famous British spy who graces books and movies as an adult. These books follow the trend of mystery, chase, and fight scenes, (as well as a little get the girl scenes), but they stay appropriate for a young teen audience. The audio books, read by Nathaniel Parker, are also very well done.
This is a fast paced adventure and mystery combined. Thomas wakes up in an elevator with no memory of his previous life. He finds himself in a community of teenage boys with similar spotty memories. They only know they are in a giant maze and their lives depend on solving it. This book is a dystopian novel of the world gone wrong, but I appreciate that the focus is on solving the mystery and not the political aspects.
This is a fast-paced adventure for younger teen readers. Catherine begs to join her father on his pirate ship following her mother’s death. On the ship and disguised as a boy, she learns of the ruthlessness and danger that come with adventure. This fast read looks at the real life of old time pirates.
When she finds a rusted tip of a rapier washed up on the beach, Jill takes it with her. However, through some power of the sword, she soon finds herself transported through time to the deck of a pirate ship. As she tries to find her way home, Jill is introduced to the life of a pirate–the cruelty as well as some surprising human kindness.
Reminiscent of Michel Crichton, this teen science fiction thriller is an exciting and interesting read. When Tori Brennan and her friends discover some old dog tags, they try to discover the original owner. This attempt leads them to an illegal experiment being conducted on a wolf-dog and starts them on the trail of an unsolved murder. The more they learn, the more danger they encounter. A good mystery with attention to science.