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Monday, August 17, 2020

YA Revolutionary War Espionage Story An Exciting, Appealing Departure

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When her mother dies, 15-year-old Francesca "Frannie" Tasker is left in the hands of her greedy, lascivious stepfather.  The older man insists she take her mother's place as his bride; Frannie would rather die.  She gets her wish when a shipwreck in the Bahaman waters where she dives for treasure delivers up the corpse of an obviously well-bred young woman.  Frannie can't save the dead girl, but maybe by letting herself "die" and assuming the girl's identity, Frannie can save herself.  The ruse only has to last long enough to get her far away from her evil stepfather in the Bahamas.  Trading her rags for the dead girl's sodden but sumptuous clothing, Frannie steps boldly into her new life. 

Frannie's ploy works far better than she ever expected it to.  Becoming Emmeline Coates, a wealthy New York City heiress, gives her exposure to the kind of luxury she's never known.  It also teaches her about the trouble brewing in America's fledgling colonies.  Even though her looming marriage to a handsome British lieutenant feels like being caged all over again, Frannie recognizes that her closeness to him could prove very advantageous.  Determined to do what she can to help her new country, she becomes an unlikely spy for George Washington.  Her borrowed identity already puts Frannie's gilded life at risk, but now she's playing an even more dangerous game, one that could end with her as dead as the real Emmeline Coates.  

Rebel Spy—a YA historical novel based on a real female spy known only as "Agent 355"—is a departure for Veronica Rossi, who's known for writing supernatural and dystopian books.  I, for one, enjoyed Rossi's foray into hist-fic.  As much as I adore the genre, I haven't read a lot of stories about the Revolutionary War, so I found Rebel Spy's setting fascinating.  Colorful period detail fleshes out the backdrop, which adds authenticity to Frannie's tale, which—let's face it—is a tad bit far-fetched.  Still, it features an empathetic heroine, an exciting plot, and a smoldering romance.  Combined with the book's intriguing setting, these appealing elements create an engrossing, entertaining book that kept me turning pages.  True, I would have preferred a story with more derring-do and less romance, but overall, I can't complain too much.  Overall, I quite enjoyed Rebel Spy.  I'm definitely up for more historical fiction from Rossi—here's hoping there's more in the works!

(Readalikes:  Um, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for mild language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. I really like the setting of this one too!

    1. Me, too! I need to find more Revolutionary War fiction.

  2. I really hope more teens and YAs are reading this kind of stuff to supplement the sketchy amount of history they get in our public schools anymore.

    1. My fear is that these books are being written for teens and they're not reading them. Most teens I know are more into contemporary stories or sci fi/fantasy. I hope at least some YA readers enjoy historical novels!

  3. This sounds like a great story and one that I hope more teens learn about: women who dressed as men in the wars, fought, spied, nursed, and more. They made such important contributions and when it's wrapped up in a good story, even better!

    1. I've read several novels about women serving in the Civil War, but I've never read any others about women in the Revolutionary War. I was especially intrigued by the fact that this novel is based on a real woman. So cool!

  4. LOVE the sound of this one. There are so many interesting nuggets throughout history, I love when an author is able to build a fictional story around them. :)

    1. Me, too! It makes history more intimate and relatable.

  5. I'm also intrigued with your thoughts about this book. It reminds me of one that I read many, many, many years ago - Celia Garth. Not sure how well that one would hold up in today's world, but it featured a seamstress in Charleston during the Revolutionary War. Celia becomes a spy for The Swamp Fox - Francis Marion - and helps the soldiers during that time. I may check and see if my library has this one.

    1. Sounds like a good one. You don't remember the title? I'll have to see if I can figure it out. It sounds like one I'd like.

    2. Just realized that CELIA GARTH is the title, not the author. Ha ha. I'm a little slow today ...

  6. This sounds quite interesting. Is it heavy on the romance? I have not read much from this time period or setting either. Great review Susan.


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