Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra

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Title: Mad Miss Mimic
Author: Sarah Henstra
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 272
Source: ARC won on Goodreads

Overall: 3.5 Stars

Summary:
It's London, 1872, where 17-year-old heiress Leonora Somerville is preparing to be presented to upper upper-class 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 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. 

My Thoughts:  
From the gritty streets of Seven Dials to the elegant mansions lining Mayfair Street, Sarah Henstra's rich attention to detail in her debut novel Mad Miss Mimic enchantingly brings the Victorian setting to life right off the pages. If you're a fan of reading YA historical fiction with a touch of romance and suspense, then Mad Miss Mimic may just be the perfect book to read next!

Seventeen-year-old heiress Leonora Somerville is a stunning beauty who will soon inherit a fortune, but instead of being the catch of the Season, her speech disorder has scared off her potential suitors. Ever since Leo was a little girl, she has stuttered when she speaks, yet even more curiously, she can flawlessly imitate any voice she overhears, something which both fascinates and perturbs everyone she meets. Leo's older sister Christabel insists she keep her mouth shut in front of society, insensitive to the humiliation Leo feels when her Mimic unintentionally attracts the wrong kind of attention.

Behind her back, Leo is often called "Mad Miss Mimic" by their servants and Christabel's upper-class friends. Leo may live a sheltered life with her sister's family at Hastings House, but it's akin to living in a gilded cage. She may not object to dressing in the latest fashion or Christabel's mission to find her a suitable husband befitting her station, but more importantly, Leo seeks freedom from society's constant judgement. She can't help feeling that everyone is just waiting for the moment she truly slips into madness.

And then affable, charming Francis Thornfax appears in Leo's life and begins to court her. He's handsome, the son of a lord, and even better, he doesn't seem to care at all about Leo's speech affliction. As her brother-in-law's new business partner, Mr. Thornfax is always well-received at Hastings House. But then there's also Tom Rampling, a working class boy with a criminal past who pervades Leo's thoughts. All the while, a mysterious opium gang called the Black Glove is terrorizing London as the debate to ban opium heats up in Parliament...

While I realized quite early in the novel which characters had good intentions versus who had nefarious plans, losing the element of surprise didn't necessarily lessen my enjoyment of reading Mad Miss Mimic. Leo may struggle to voice her thoughts, but she has a very lovely imagination, describing her surroundings with an often whimsical or reminiscent style of narration that absolutely made up for the easiness of solving the overarching mystery. I am definitely hoping Sarah Henstra is already busily writing a new YA novel!

Thanks so much to Penguin Random House Canada for providing this review copy!

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