Book Review: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee
Release Date: March 9, 2010
Publisher: Candlewick
Pages: 352
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: ★★★★★ 
Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository

Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past. – Goodreads

Helloooo, new favorite book! A Spy in the House was absolutely brilliant. It executed a great mystery, was never slow or boring, and had leads that were both complex and captivating. Mary easily joined the ranks as one of my favorite characters. She was clever, had spirit, and was not afraid to stand her ground. Then there was James Easton who was very much Mary’s equal. The two could bring out the best and worst of each other, but it was a good balance and they made quite the team together.

The mystery was very well written, neither too convoluted nor too obvious. All of the characters involved had evidence against them, making them equal suspects, and yet the conclusion still managed to surprise me. Details of Mary’s past were also revealed and it was very easy to empathize with her. I’m looking forward to seeing more information surface in the future installments and for Mary to fully accept her identity.

Then there was the romance… James and Mary easily have some of the best chemistry I’ve come across. From their first encounter in the wardrobe, I knew they would be a pair I would love and that proved to be true. If you’re looking for declarations of love, and all that goes with the usual YA novel, you won’t find it here, but you will find a compatible match with these two. Their banter and sexual tension was fantastic and it can only get better from here.

Despite my early wake up call for this morning, and my body demanding sleep, I stayed up past 2AM to finish up the story. As the end approached, I ran to my computer to order the next book in the trilogy, The Body at the Tower. It won’t be here until Friday and I’m already anxiously waiting to get my hands on it. A big thank you to Cialina at for bringing this series to my attention. Without her glowing review, which you can read here, I would have never picked it up on my own and that would be absolutely sad. I can’t recommend it enough, so definitely give it a chance if you can!

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About the Blogger

Stephanie is 20-something. From Los Angeles. Gryffindor. Professional procrastinator. A repeat button abuser. And many other things. You can find her on twitter. You can also subscribe to the blog!


  1. I picked this one for one of my challenges this year because of Cialina too. And now, with another amazing review, I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  2. I love this book! The second book is also really, really good. Unfortunately, the third book in the series won’t be coming out in the US until Spring 2012! It’ll be out in the UK this year, but if I buy the UK edition the cover won’t match the others… sad!

    • Ack, yeah, I just saw that it would be released sooner in the UK and it makes me super conflicted. I NEED to have my covers match, but waiting until next year will kill me…AHHH!

  3. Yay, glad you enjoyed this one! I totally agree with you, the chemistry between Mary and James is fabulous and their dialogue really shines. I think you’ll definitely like the second one, I stayed up really late reading it! (I am also bummed about having to wait so long for book 3 to come out in North America. *sighs*)

    • I’m going to try and order book 3 through Book Depository! They are based in the UK so hopefully we’ll be able to snag a copy!

    • I can’t wait to get it! At least this time I’ll be able to sleep in the next morning. :P I think I’m going to give in and order the third online when the time comes. There’s no way I’ll be patient until 2012.

  4. Yes!!!! I am SO happy you enjoyed it. Geez, your review makes me want to gush about it all over again. Mary & James are definitely one of my top YA couples of all time.

    • I’m honestly a little worried about starting a new book because I know I’ll still be thinking of this one…I may have to take a little break, haha.

  5. Well with a review like this, I have to read it now! It sounds totally amazing, and I can’t wait to read it.


  1. [...] After having fallen in love with A Spy in the House, I was looking forward to another adventure with Mary and James. While not quite reaching the level [...]

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