I bought the full set of these books in paperback for my grandchildren for this coming Christmas, but couldn’t resist having a little read myself—very careful not to bend the spine too far back and crease them.
These are intelligent stories for the young reader—or, indeed, for anybody over the age of ten. I thoroughly enjoyed this, the first in the series.
Mary is in service in a big house in London during times gone by. Saywack has the ability to capture this time and culture beautifully. He writes a cockney sparrow to perfection, and this isn’t the first book of his I’ve read. Also, check out Inglestone Manor, which is fantastic.
Mary is accused of stealing and is dismissed from her employment as a maid. There are no Social Services or places for young girls to go at that time—apart from the workhouse. She’s cast out and has to look after herself. With the fortitude and determination of a gritty child with no concept of danger, she refuses to accept the unfair dismissal blackening her tender name. She is set on finding out who really burgled the house and left her literally holding the jewels after she tried to apprehend them.
The plot thickens as we are introduced to other characters, and Mary’s foolhardy quest leads her deeper into trouble and London’s seedy underworld. The writing is always gentle and kind and is suitable for young readers while not shying away from some of the hardships of the times.
Mary is my hero, and I’d hire her tomorrow. Shiv Saywack is a favourite author of the staff in my office.
Born in South Shields, Tyne & Weir, Katherine Black lives on the tip of the beautiful British Lake District. She lives with her partner, father-in-law and 4 dysfunctional but co-mingling pets. She is mother, grandmother and secret keeper of all. She is Best Book Editors’ principal editor.