Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Hardcover novel
If you haven’t yet read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, then you should really stop everything you’re doing and go read it or listen to it now. It’s the delightful book the world needs right now, and was one of the best novels I read in 2018.
All done? If you’ve read Gentleman’s Guide then you’ll understand my enormous excitement when I picked up the sequel, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, last month. Whereas Gentleman’s Guide was primarily focused on Monty and his best friend/love interest Percy, Lady’s Guide focuses on Monty’s sister, Felicity, and her quest to become a physician in a time when women seeking medical careers were relegated to the roles of nurse or midwife. When the book begins, Felicity is struggling with the choice to marry the kind baker who has sheltered her after her adventures from the first novel, though she feels absolutely no romantic interest in him, or continue with her seemingly futile search for a medical school that will accept her as a student despite her gender.
Lady’s Guide manages to achieve the same whimsical, lighthearted tone as the previous book, even when Felicity finds herself in dire straights. Every character is larger-than-life, every event is tense and dramatic, and as a result the book was hard to put down! I was a little concerned I’d be less interested in the paper edition of the book since I read Gentleman’s Guide in audiobook format, but I found Lee’s writing to be just as engaging when encountered on the page. Lee also deserves major props for choosing to write about an asexual/aromantic character. It was refreshing to read about a character who is focused on her career aspirations rather than her romantic aspirations, especially in a young adult novel, a genre where a romantic subplot has, in the past, almost been considered a necessity. Instead, the story focuses on Felicity’s friendships and her passion for medicine, and so much happens at such a thrilling pace that I didn’t miss the romantic subplot at all.
I also really enjoy the way Lee uses magical and fantasy elements in her writing. In both books she presents what appear to be historical novels, and the fantasy elements are only gradually revealed. Magic is rare and special, and the characters are always astounded when they encounter it. Combined with her witty style, this gives Lee’s writing a wry, historical, magical realism feel that’s pretty unique to her voice. I eagerly anticipate her next book! I’d recommend Lee’s novels for fans of young adult novels but also those who like their fiction with a fast pace and a humorous undertone, like you might find in a novel by Edgar Cantero or Grady Hendrix.
Overall rating: 5/5 stars
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