I’m continually amazed at the current high quality of the books being written in the YA genre. If you believe yourself too mature to be mucking about in the children’s stable, I’d suggest you climb down off your peggy-leggy horse and meet me on the ground to bask in some of the most original, compelling and refreshing stories being told in literature today.
Sarah Zettel’s Dangerous Deceptions is no exception. From the first sentence, the cheerfully gossipy chatterbox tone draws you in, makes you want to pull up an overstuffed chair close to the inadequate fire of a Georgian palace, and revel in the sheer fun of a finely spun yarn.
Released this month, Dangerous Deceptions is book two in the Palace of Spies series- though it stands well on its own. When we meet her, Peggy Fitzroy has just finished up a grand adventure, posing as a dead woman in the court of King George. She had narrowly escaped many dangers, both physical and societal, while somehow winning the favor of the Princess and retaining her double life as a lady in waiting and a spy to the Crown.
I’ve read some criticism that the book was both too graphic for young audiences and yet somehow simultaneously also too long and boring. While Peggy’s attempted rape at the hands of her unwanted betrothed is mentioned, it isn’t described in even slightly lascivious detail. I would argue that it lays much of the foundation for Peggy’s later actions, including her determination to learn self defense- something that would be shocking and unheard of at the time. Further, I somehow doubt that most modern 12-year-olds (the recommended lower age for the book) are so sheltered that the mere existence of rape is unknown to them.
As for long and boring, I’m truly baffled. The characters are so colorfully drawn that they fairly dance off the pages. I think we feel Peggy’s frustration at being tied to her public duties as a lady, while trying to fit in a moment to accomplish her real work of gathering information. So yes, the action does progress slowly, but I think it would feel forced and unrealistic otherwise.
If you’re willing to immerse yourself in a giddy historical romp, full of high adventure, intrigue and romance, with an uncommonly delightful heroine, I would suggest seeking this out with great haste.