Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Me on Tangled Webs

Title: Tangled Webs
Author: Lee Bross
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London—secrets. But leading a double life isn't easy. By day Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London's slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, the infamous Thief Taker General who moves seamlessly between the city's criminal underworld and its most elite upper circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London. Everything changes when she meets Graeden Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, has seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is—not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?

Tangled Webs is cloaked in danger and mystery. Arista is caught up in a web of truths and secrets. When it unravels underneath her, will she be able to land on her feet? Or will she instead get caught up in the strands, unable to escape?

Arista is intelligent, watchful, and dangerous. She's craving escape from a life of crime and misery. She's craving freedom. Travel. She wants to leave the slums, leave Bones' hold, but she's afraid of him. For the sake of her affection for her friends under him, for the sake of her greater desire to stay alive, she stays. When things start to fall apart, when Wild finds her, when this new deal is struck, it changes everything for her. She can see a light at the end of the tunnel now, but this new world, this proper world, is difficult to navigate. In the slums it was easy to know who to trust and who to keep both eyes on. Who would sell you out. But not now, not when she's surrounded by people who are nice to her, who like her, who want to help her. But what if all she's done now is make the same old deal with a different devil?

The setting is well described, well established. This is a time period of lavish parties and masquerades, of pickpockets and thieves, of buildings ruined by fire. Of thief lords and highwaymen. Of travel, adventure, and empire. Of young women wishing they had the freedom and power of their male counterparts. Arista is constantly under a man's thumb, under his control, and she wants nothing more than to be in control of her own life.

I found this to be a clever mystery, an adventure of sorts for Arista. She has to navigate a number of treacherous situations, she has to decide who to trust and for how long. She has to be hard and practical if she wants to survive. But she still has a soft heart that wants to keep her friends safe. I would suggest that fans of historical YA like Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra give this book a read.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)

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