Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Review - A Murder Most Unladylike - Robin Stevens

Murder Most Unladylike (Wells and Wong, #1)Title: Murder Most Unladylike
Series: A Wells & Wong Mystery
Author: Robin Stevens
Genre: Middle-Grade, Young Adult, Mystery
Publication: June 5th 2014, Corgi
Pages: 324 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to RandomStruik for sending me this in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES!
Deepdean School for Girls, 1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia's missing tie. Which they don't, really.)
But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident - but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place . . . and there's more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.
Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?


I received this book in the mail sometime last week and it was quite an unexpected parcel, although I was very excited, I was somewhat wary as well. I'd heard amazing things about it and I'd seen it circulating my social media feed with positive things, yet I was apprehensive to read it as I don't generally read murder mystery books. Because they're generally gory and I am a well-known sissy when it comes to things like that. However, I decided to channel my inner Tris and read it. I was pleasantly surprised. The story was quaint, the characters charming and the writing extremely gripping with a hilarious and wonderful narrative voice. When I reached the end of this book, I was achingly disappointed as I loved every single moment spent reading this book!

A Murder Most Unladylike is the first book in a middle-grade mystery series that I'm sure is going to be a major success. It takes place in 1934, Deepdean School for Girls, a boarding school nestled in the English countryside and our two protagonists are two girls who attend the school: Hazel Wong, a thirteen year old girl from Hong Kong and Daisy Wells, a proper English Rose with a lord as a father and they have been best friends since they first started at Deepdean School for Girls. Daisy loves mystery novels and devours them, so she decides to set up her own secret Detective Society, with only her and Hazel as the members. It's a bit hard for them to have a successful one, seeing as not much happens at the school. But then one day Hazel stumbles upon the dead body of her science teacher in the gym and when she returns 5 minutes later with Daisy, the body is gone. Shocked and shaken, Hazel fears for what happens next but Daisy is ecstatic, it's just the thing that she's been waiting for – the Detective's Society's proper case! And so they begin the hunt for clues, trying to solve the case before the the murderer strikes again...

This book was utterly incredible and I honestly cannot think of one single thing to fault it on. The characters seemed so incredibly real and had such distinct personalities, the mystery was dead-on perfect (yes, pun intended) and the writing was of the kind that completely grips you and you find yourself feeling as if you were indeed actually there, experiencing this hair-raising adventure. Everything added together made this book such a charming, wonderful, refreshing book to read.

I'll first off start with the characters who I LOVE! You know when you're reading a book and it truly feels like you've become best friends with the characters? That is exactly how I felt whilst reading this book! The characters are so realistic and so likeable! We have Hazel Wong who was sent to England by her father who went to an English boarding school himself and was determined to do the same for his daughter. I loved Hazel, she had such a wonderful narrative voice that was honest, funny and smart. She was more mellow and thought things through beforehand, contrary to Daisy who, although a fantastic detective, didn't think things through which often caused them to be mislead. Daisy is energetic, stubborn, extremely clever and inquisitive. I adored Daisy! I loved how she was always enthusiastic about things and how she would hide her detective novels that the Matron was always confiscating and how she would always be on the lookout for things. They both had their flaws, Daisy will not accept being wrong about anything and Hazel shouldn't have given into Daisy's demands when she didn't see fit but I still loved them regardless of that.

I also loved the girls' friendship! It's rare to come across books these days that have meaningful friendships in them, but Daisy and Hazel were prime examples of that. I loved how they're complete opposites yet they balance each other out. Daisy is extremely clever when it comes to solving mysteries, as she devours mystery novels and it is mentioned that her uncle is a spy, yet she often thinks that she is always right and lets her feelings for other people influence whether or not she thinks they are guilty or innocent. Hazel helps balance that out with her with her approach that makes her think things through very clearly as well as detaching herself from her personal feelings on the suspects. I thought it was adorable when Daisy would refer to Hazel as Watson and how they would have their detective meetings in the airing cupboard after toothbrushes, but Daisy made it seem professional. Their friendship definitely was tried and tested but they made it through when they acknowledged, and tried to correct, their faults.

The storyline was fantastic, extremely fast-paced and I never once found myself losing interest. With some of my recent reads, I would find myself sometimes getting distracted and checking my Instagram or Twitter but with A Murder Most Unladylike my attention was entangled in a vice-like grip throughout the whole book. I would've loved reading this book in one day, but unfortunately my copious amount of schoolwork wouldn't give into my bookish wishes. What I loved about A Murder Most Unladylike, is that the chapters were also quite short, giving it a more suspenseful, quickened atmosphere. I found myself flying through the pages and finding myself repeatedly saying, just one more chapter. 

The mystery aspect of this was incredibly well mapped-out and now that I think about it there was definitely some foreshadowing that led to the revealing of who the guilty culprit was. It was incredibly well done and I didn't suspect who it was until the girls finally started coming to the conclusion themselves. I loved how Robin Stevens wrote it, as it truly felt as if I were going right along with the girls themselves on this journey. I was as shocked as they were when they discovered new things and it honestly felt like I solved the mystery with them every step of the way. I love it when an author writes so fantastically that it truly feels as if you are transported to the world in which the characters we are currently reading about are inhabiting. I loved how this book also wasn't predictable and I was honestly shocked by the clues that were dug up towards the end. It was quite a twist.

The writing was flawless. It's gripping, it's funny and the language used and makes the book feel more old-fashioned and as it's set in the 1930s, it makes the story extensively authentic. I loved the uniqueness of this novel and the charming writing and I can honestly see this series being the new Nancy Drew.

A Murder Most Unladylike is an exquisite, flawless novel with humour, mystery, plot twists and spectacular characters who you will utterly adore! This book was extremely entertaining and I was either gasping from shock or chuckling at the amusing things that Daisy and Hazel would get up to. There were some intense scenes that sped up my heart rate and had me thoroughly distressed for the characters. I loved the whole storyline and everything about this book. I highly recommend it to all book lovers as I think anyone, regardless of their age, would enjoy it.

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!





Notes:
It is a middle-grade book, but there was some mention of LGBT at one point and the girls played with an Ouija board, which I felt quite uncomfortable about. So if your child wants to read this book, it does contain that, but nothing is described in too much detail and the spiritual scene was short :)

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