Mad Miss Mimic – Sarah Henstra
London, 1872. Seventeen-year-old heiress Leonora Somerville is preparing to be presented to 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 in 1872 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.
Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
I loved this book!! I was obsessed with the title/cover before I started it, and I devoured the whole thing.
If I had to review it using a gif, I would pick this one:
Also, shout out to the author (Sarah Henstra) for being Canadian! And teaching at Ryerson (which is where I got my publishing certificate). She teaches courses on Gothic horror stories and fairy tales and I’m like two seconds away from trying to take one of her classes because I’m fascinated by both those things!
What I liked:
-the setting: for one, I love London. I also love the Victorian era. It was a win-win!
-the characters. Leo was insecure and sensitive, but was also smart and able to think for herself (practically unheard of in Victorian times!). I found her mimicry fascinating, though admittedly there’s no medical explanation of it (but it wasn’t jarring or confusing within the context of the story, so I didn’t question it).
And, even though I didn’t trust him from the very beginning, I kinda liked Francis Thornfax (up until that part that I’m not going to spoil, but you’ll know it when you read it). He had a classic Austen hero-villain quality to him (like George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice except more charming). And of course I liked Tom Rampling (with a name like Tom Rampling, how could you not like him?). I wasn’t sure what to make of him at first, but he grew on me.
OH, and Christa! I had a love-hate relationship with Leo’s sister where I both felt sorry for her but also wanted to smack her. I imagine that’s how Leo herself felt though, so she was well written.
-the writing (and overall plot) was compelling and drew me in. I liked that the vessel was called Heroine and I loved the author’s note at the end that gave some historical background. She clearly did her research, and, even if she invented or tweaked a few things, it was still believable.
Plus the fact that the whole mystery revolved around drugs was pretty great. Unique and interesting.
-the ending. I was a little worried that she was going to go in one direction and, even though I would have respected her for it, I would have cried. But then she went the more traditional/predictable route, and I still almost cried but this time out of happiness!
Obviously I still have a mad amount of respect for her, but I’m just glad it worked out the way it did.
What I didn’t like:
-I can’t really think of anything I didn’t like.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is: if I sat down and pulled the book apart, I’d maybe find something wrong with it. But I’m not going to do that, so it was pretty near flawless for me.
If you like spunky Victorian heroines (which I do), I highly recommend this one.