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Book Review: Princess Elizabeth’s Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

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Princess Elizabeth’s Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal is the second book in a planned series of mystery novels featuring Maggie Hope. As in the first book, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, this book also takes place in London during World War II.

After saving England while working as a typist for Winston Churchill, Maggie Hope has her sights on becoming a spy. However, MI5 doesn’t think she has what it takes and kicks her out of spy course. Maggie’s new assignment is to keep an eye over the teenaged Princess Elizabeth under the guise of being a math tutor.

Still emotionally recovering from discovering her father is not dead as she thought all her life, Maggie now has to deal with royalty and worst… royalty’s entourage. As Maggie discovers, this is not a cushy assignment, but one which involves intrigue, kidnapping and murder.

Princess Elizabeth’s Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal more personable and entertaining than the first novel, maybe because the first was an “origin story” with a series in mind while in this one the large cast of characters has already been introduced. The protagonist grows more in this book, still feisty and strong, but also sensitive – fumbling her way through the castle.

I liked the mystery and the story, but I think that the way Maggie Hope progressed as a character is the true success of this book. Maggie is becoming a complex woman growing up quickly in a very difficult time doing an incredibly complicated job while trying to keep her personal life from completely being shredded.

While there are certainly historical figures in the book, I would not classify this book as historical-fiction, but rather as a fictional story that is set in the past. From the author’s note at the end of the book I understand that this is the way the author herself also qualifies the book.

That being said, one can get a sense, or a glimpse, of what it was like to live in England during World War II, whether in a hamlet or a castle, you were still very restricted but doing all you can to help King and country.

This is a charming book with an entertaining premise, a light mystery and developing recurring characters. It is a fast page-turner with several interesting plot lines keeping you on the edge using humor and playfulness to keep the story moving.

Buy this book in paper or electronic (Kindle) format.

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