Monday, 1 June 2015

ARC Review: Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra


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Author: Sarah Henstra
Pages: 272
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Received from: publisher
Status: standalone

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

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.

***
Mad Miss Mimic is a lovely story about standing up for oneself, while learning what it means to truly be your own person.

Our main character, Leonora, is everything that upper class society wants to be: beautiful and rich. But unfortunately, Leonora has the ability to mimic other's voices, which makes her stand out from all the other girls'- in a very bad way.

Leonora is an interesting character, as she tells most of the story through her thoughts (since she speaks with a stutter, and when she's embarrassed or under pressure, uses "Mimic" to mimic other's voices and phrasing of words). She's a naturally curious character, that throughout the novel, learns how to use her abilities to solve a very important mystery. What I love about Leonora is that, despite her limitations due to her speech and place in society, she's able to be her own person because of the positive people around her.

While the story did deal with romance (and her love interests did intermingle with the story's overall plot), the entirety of the novel was to showcase how Leonora learned how to be her own person, and not caring about what society thought about her. Because of her speech deficiency, Leonora was often scolded and told to hide her mimicry from people (especially her older sister, Christabel, who holds a longstanding grudge against her from their childhood). Through hardships, she learned how to control Mimic, and thus control her own life as well.

The novel was a great book to read, and I recommend this novel to any fan of historical fiction, and any fan who is in search of a character that refuses to bend to society's norms.

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