Secrets in the Snow
#5 Literary Mysteries
by Michaela MacColl
Genre: Historical Mystery
Publisher/Imprint: Chronicle Books, LLC
Formats available: Print and E-Book
Pub Date: 10.4.16 | Pages 288
REVIEWER: Sophia Rose
E-galley provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
Jane Austen’s family is eager to secure her future by marrying her off. But Jane is much more interested in writing her novels, and finds every suitor lacking—until the mysterious Mr. Lefroy arrives. Could he be the one? Before Jane can find out, she must solve a murder, clear her family’s name, and face a decision that might cost her true love.
I was taken with the fun of a mystery starring none other than Jane Austen as a nineteen year old sleuth. The author took some liberties, but in essentials allowed the reader to enter the world of a younger Jane Austen who is on the cusp of bigger things including writing her brilliant works.
Secrets in the Snow is set in the midst of Jane’s daily life. There are family visits and local engagements. Jane already is touched by her family’s situation and how that affects her. She is under some pressure to marry and to marry well even though she yearns to write her stories and if she marries to marry for less practical reasons than her livelihood.
So she is eager to be distracted by the suspicion of treason leveled on her flamboyant cousin, Eliza, and the mysterious man who trails her. Jane is intent on proving Eliza’s innocence even while figuring out the mysterious happenings around her cousin. The mystery is not difficult to solve, but there are a few delightful twists.
In the meanwhile, her friend and neighbor, Mrs. Lefoy, insists Jane help entertain the lady’s nephew from London, Mr. Tom Lefoy. Tom is Jane’s match in wit and intellect and she starts to wonder what a future with such a man might be like, but then a murder has her setting thoughts of romance aside. I enjoyed the repartee between this pair. They are antagonistic at first and then seem a good pairing. But all along, I wondered if the author would stay true to the elemental facts of Jane’s life in regard to Tom Lefoy or go into an alternative story that changes the known outcome. I’ll leave that part a secret.
Now, I usually do not bring up editing concerns particularly when I am reading an advanced reader copy, but I feel that this one was rawer than most I read. There were editing issues that made it difficult going at times and I hope were cleaned up in the finally copy. Thoughts and sentences would end in the middle at times along with the usual grammar and spelling errors so maybe check some reviews of the finished copy to make sure if editing errors are a big issue for you.
The overall story is light and quickly read. It lightly touches historical authenticity, but there is enough so that the reader is not pushed beyond believeability. It was great getting Jane amongst her family and friends. I was particularly taken that the author included scenes with her brother George. This is touted as a young adult book and I would agree that it is suitable for that age group, but I didn’t ever feel like I was reading a Young Adult book so I would recommend this
to those who want a light cozy mystery involving the life of a young Jane Austen.