Release Date ~ May 5, 2015
ARC received from publisher for review
London, 1872. Seventeen-year-old heiress Leonora Somerville is preparing to be presented to society -- again. She's strikingly beautiful and going to be very rich, but Leo has a problem money can't solve. A curious speech disorder causes her to stutter but also allows her to imitate other people's voices flawlessly. Servants and ladies alike call her "Mad Miss Mimic" behind her back...and watch as Leo unintentionally scares off one potential husband after another.
London in 1872 is also a city gripped by opium fever. Leo's brother-in-law Dr. Dewhurst and his new business partner Francis Thornfax are frontrunners in the race to patent an injectable formula of the drug. Friendly, forthright, and as a bonus devastatingly handsome, Thornfax seems immune to the gossip about Leo's "madness." But their courtship is endangered from the start. The mysterious Black Glove opium gang is setting off explosions across the city. The street urchins Dr. Dewhurst treats are dying of overdose. And then there is Tom Rampling, the working-class boy Leo can't seem to get off her mind.
As the violence closes in around her Leo must find the links between the Black Glove's attacks, Tom's criminal past, the doctor's dangerous cure, and Thornfax's political ambitions. But first she must find her voice.
Mad Miss Mimic is a really fun, engaging story which blends a few different elements together to create its own unique feel. It's a little bit of historical fiction, with a thrilling mystery, and a heroine who stands out because of her speech disorder. This is a great book for readers who like thoughtful stories and remarkable heroines!
Also this book cover? So pretty and one of my favourites! It suits the book really well.
- Leonora's brave and fascinating character:
Leo stands out among other book characters for a few different reasons. The most obvious is her speech disorder; this isn't addressed in very many books, but I love that Sarah Henstra included this in Mad Miss Mimic and made it an integral part of the story. You can see how Leo struggles with it, yet she refuses to allow it to become her entire life and learns how to work with her mimicry. The development of her character is remarkable given the shorter length of the book, and it's inspiring to see how she doesn't let anyone else define her or box her in.
- Leo's speech disorder:
Leo's speech disorder is a fairly obvious trait of hers. It's hard to ignore and no one fails to notice it unless she simply doesn't speak. Which brings up another interesting part of the story - she's regularly encouraged by some characters to sit and look pretty, which wasn't at all an uncommon attitude in Victorian times but it's so poignant with Leo. Importantly, there are other characters who don't see or treat her as lesser because of it (some are better than others, however). And I think it is realistic to see the varying reactions of other characters to Leo's manner of speaking, yet all the while it is balanced by Leo's own feelings towards it.
- The cast of secondary characters:
I like characters who aren't reduced to being two-dimensional and Sarah wrote her other characters in Mad Miss Mimic really well. No one is truly good nor evil, and you can see that there is a sense of a gray area when it comes to their actions and decisions. There are many people who mean well, but fall short, or who are simply looking out for their own interests, yet at the expense of others. I appreciate this complexity in books and their characters, and it really impressed me to find it here.
The biggest issue for me is that this is a well-developed plot and one that is very complex with so many details to be uncovered, yet the book itself is on the shorter side. There were some parts of the story which I felt could have been fleshed out more had the book been longer. On the other hand, this book moves at a slower pace compared to others so that may be a good thing to keep readers more accustomed to action-packed books engaged with the storyline here.