Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister #BookReview #MarchReleases

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girlindisguiseTitle: Girl in Disguise
Author: Greer Macallister
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 308 pages
Publication Details: March 21st 2017 by Sourcebooks Landmark

Genre(s): Historical Fiction; Adventure; Mystery 
Disclosure? Yep, I received an advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review!

Goodreads 

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For the first female Pinkerton detective, respect is hard to come by. Danger, however, is not.

In the tumultuous years of the Civil War, the streets of Chicago offer a woman mostly danger and ruin-unless that woman is Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective and a desperate widow with a knack for manipulation.

Descending into undercover operations, Kate is able to infiltrate the seedy side of the city in ways her fellow detectives can’t. She’s a seductress, an exotic foreign medium, or a rich train passenger, all depending on the day and the robber, thief, or murderer she’s been assigned to nab.

Inspired by the real story of Kate Warne, this spirited novel follows the detective’s rise during one of the nation’s greatest times of crisis, bringing to life a fiercely independent woman whose forgotten triumphs helped sway the fate of the country.

Review

I didn’t know what to expect from Girl in Disguise having not read Macallister’s debut novel The Magician’s Lie or knowing much about the Pinkertons/ that era of American history to be perfectly honest. However, I do enjoy a good historical yarn now and then as long it’s not too bogged down in facts and figures, so I was eager to give it a try.

We first meet Kate Warne – famous for being the first ever female detective – when she is setting out to be just that. She answers an ad in a paper knowing full well that it will be difficult to persuade them that she’s the right man for the job, as it were. But of course she does, and so we follow Kate as she begins her training with Allan Pinkerton to learn everything she can about being an undercover operative.

Kate has a bit of a shaky start, including a run-in with colleague Bellamy but after that we watch her go from strength to strength and become more confident and cunning in her abilities.

I really enjoyed Macallister’s take on Kate Warne. She could probably come across quite cold and stern to some but because we hear the story from her point of view we know differently, we know it’s merely a self-defence tactic which is necessary for her to adopt considering all the things that are stacked against her. The main one of course being that she is a woman in a time where ‘respectable’ women aren’t even supposed to have jobs, never mind this kind of job.

I liked that Girl in Disguise is an action-packed adventure but also uses Kate Warne’s story to explore a lot of interesting issues surrounding equality. In a time of female oppression, Kate not only makes ground-breaking steps forward, she is also fiercely aware that other women are so accustomed to inequality that they’re often their own worst enemies…

They don’t hesitate to hang women down here”

“Could they be so awful?”

“What’s awful about it?” she shrugged. “Our crimes are as serious as theirs. Our punishments should be too.”

“A miserable sort of equality to hope for.”

Even in these terrible circumstances, she looked proud. “If we take the good, we also have to take the bad.We don’t get to fetch it up piecemeal.”

I think that sort of double-standards still rings true today. There is also the character of Deforest who Kate – whilst working on her tracking skills – discovers he is harbouring a secret that would see him hanged – he’s gay. Kate and Deforest’s friendship was my favourite in the novel, and I liked how the author captured her initial reaction and how her attitude towards him changed throughout the book. It rang true to the era and didn’t take the easy route of making Kate completely ambivalent towards it.

“In some way, I couldn’t possibly fathom him, his unnatural interests, his decision to be like he was. But the undertow of his terror, I understood.”

Macallister has done a great job in researching the real Kate Warne and building on that with her own version of the detective. Like I said earlier, I’m not a fan of historical fiction when it’s all facts and no storytelling but there was definitely a lot of storytelling here, with the facts seamlessly embedded. I thought some of Macallister’s descriptions were lovely too, making it a compelling read.

“The woman lay on the carpet as if resting, which I suppose she was, only forever.”

My one critique is that first half of the book felt a bit like a montage of events which made the pace nice and fast but I longed for more detail; it sometimes felt like Macallister was trying to fit too much in at once. She could have concentrated on just one or two of Warne’s interesting cases rather than an overview of many. This was most definitely improved on in the second half of the book though.

In this novel we see Kate Warne’s rise and fall, and the changing attitudes towards her from those around her. It’s a fun, rollercoaster of a read, and one which reads as a love letter to plucky women whose actions make the world a better place. Therefore it’s bound to be called a great feminist story, but I’d prefer to just call it a great story, Full Stop.

unicorn rating 4

 

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This Week in Books 08.03.17 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next. 

Bit later than I usually post but I made it!  Here’s what my week has looked like:

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Now: The Invisible Hand ~ James Hartley // Girl in Disguise ~ Greer Macallister // The Time Machine ~ H.G Wells

I’ve only just started The Invisible Hand but it’s been a good first impression. I’m just over half-way through Girl in Disguise with is released on the 21st of this month. I’m really enjoying it. I’m also stiiiiiiiiiiill going on The Time Machine at lunch-times.

Then:   All the Good Things ~ Clare Sita Fisher // The Mercy of the Tide ~ Keith Rosson

I really enjoyed All the Good Things which is an emotional read about one woman’s road to prison and coming to terms with what she did. I’ll be reviewing it soon. It’s not out until June. I unfortunately had to DNF Mercy of the Tide. It was really intriguing, and didn’t start off badly, but I just really wasn’t in the mood for it for some reason.

Next: ??? 

Definitely something from my physical TBR shelf. Maybe Six of Crows, The Chemist, or King’s Cage depending on what mood i’m in after my current reads.

New on the Shelves

 

From Netgalley:

kidsinorangeThe gang leader doesn’t like poetry, but will a detention center workshop show her how to express love for her newborn daughter?  A teen boy dies of a drug overdose. Will his final poem speak what he cannot say?  

I’m Waiting on…

I’ve already been approved for this which I’m delighted about. Love the idea of The Little Mermaid in graphic novel form. 

littlemermaidThe Little Mermaid is Hans Christian Andersen’s most celebrated tale and is beautifully adapted here as a graphic novel by the Eisner award nominated duo Metaphrog (Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers), winners of the Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards Best Visual Artist 2016, and authors of the acclaimed The Red Shoes and Other Tales.

The Little Mermaid lives deep under the ocean and longs to see the world above. When at last she is allowed to rise to the surface at age fifteen, she falls in love with a young prince. In order to become a human and to be with him, she makes a dangerous pact with the Sea Witch.

Expected Publication: 4th April by Papercutz

 

So that’s my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

Leave your answers or the link to your post in the comments and I’ll take a look 🙂

Coming Up: March TBR (and beyond)! #TBR #NewReleases

I like to have an idea of what I’m going to try and read in the month ahead, but it’s certainly not set in stone. Here are some of the most likely books you can expect to see on the blog in the next month or so….[links go to Goodreads]. 🙂

ARCS / Proofs

 

All the Good Things ~ Clare Fisher

 

I’ve just finished this… it was gooood!

allthegood Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve to ever feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone-even a 100% bad person-deserve a chance to be good?

Expected publication: June 1st 2017 by Viking, Penguin UK

Girl in Disguise ~ Greer Macallister

 

I’ve just started this one. The early reviews were a bit hit and miss but I’m looking forward to it.

girlindisguiseFor the first female Pinkerton detective, respect is hard to come by. Danger, however, is not.

In the tumultuous years of the Civil War, the streets of Chicago offer a woman mostly danger and ruin-unless that woman is Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective and a desperate widow with a knack for manipulation.

Descending into undercover operations, Kate is able to infiltrate the seedy side of the city in ways her fellow detectives can’t. She’s a seductress, an exotic foreign medium, or a rich train passenger, all depending on the day and the robber, thief, or murderer she’s been assigned to nab.

Inspired by the real story of Kate Warne, this spirited novel follows the detective’s rise during one of the nation’s greatest times of crisis, bringing to life a fiercely independent woman whose forgotten triumphs helped sway the fate of the country.

Expected publication: March 21st 2017 by Sourcebooks Landmark

The Invisible Hand ~ James Hartley

 

I love modern day Shakespeare retellings so looking forward to this.

img_0186The Invisible Hand is about a boy, Sam, who has just started life at a boarding school and finds himself able to travel back in time to medieval Scotland.

There he meets a girl, Leana, who can travel to the future, and the two of them become wrapped up in events in Macbeth, the Shakespeare play, and in the daily life of the school.

The book is the first part of a series called Shakespeares Moon. Each book is set in the same boarding school but focuses on a different Shakespeare play.

Published February 22nd 2017 by Lodestone Books

From the TBR Shelf

Six of Crows ~ Leigh Bardugo

 

sixofcrows

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

Published September 29th 2015 by Indigo

King’s Cage (Red Queen #3) ~ Victoria Aveyard

 

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 In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

Published February 7th 2017 by HarperTeen
Any of these take your fancy?
Or let me know if you’ve already read any and recommend them.