Title: Mad Miss Mimic
Author: Sarah Henstra
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Jane Austen meets Arthur Conan Doyle in a historical fiction debut for fans of Ruta Sepetys and Elizabeth Wein.
Born into an affluent family, Leo outwardly seems like a typical daughter of English privilege in the 1870s: she lives with her wealthy married sister Christabel, and lacks for neither dresses nor trinkets. But Leo has a crippling speech impediment that makes it difficult for her to speak but curiously allows her to mimic other people’s voices flawlessly. Servants and ladies alike call her “Mad Miss Mimic” behind her back… and watch as she unintentionally scares off every potential suitor. Only the impossibly handsome Mr. Thornfax seems interested in Leo…but why? And does he have a connection to the mysterious Black Glove group that has London in its terrifying grasp? Trapped in a city under siege by terror attacks and gripped by opium fever, where doctors (including her brother-in-law) race to patent an injectable formula, Leo must search for truth in increasingly dangerous situations – but to do so, she must first find her voice.
I loved this Victorian novel! As the description says, it has aspects of both Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes novels.
Leo is an interesting character. She’s very secluded because of her stutter, but she is still expected to follow the path of a Victorian lady by marrying into money. Because of her stutter, she has faced many hardships. A unique aspect of her stutter is that she can mimic voices perfectly. But that has led her into more trouble than anything. When she mimicked the voice of her sister’s suitor, her words ended her sister’s engagement and also ruined her relationship with her only sibling.
Most of the characters were unlikeable, which is hard for the writer to do and still create a great story. Right from the beginning I didn’t like Christabel, her husband, or Mr. Thornfax. I didn’t like the way they patronized Leo, solely because of her stutter. But I liked Leo and I rooted for her through the whole book. She was intelligent, and took risks to solve the mystery of the Black Glove.
I’m definitely going to follow this author, because this was a great debut novel!