Monday, August 9, 2021

Review: The Burglar's Ball by Julia Golding

I'm starting this week off with a historical mystery. I did read and review the first one in the series awhile back (here) and was excited to get my hands on an ARC of the next one. So, today's review heads back into history and to a ball, where a thief disrupts a ball.

Ready to jet back in time? 

Jane Austen Investigates, Book 2
by Julia Golding
Lion Hudson Ltd
Middle Grade Mystery / Historical
176 pages
ages 9 to 12

OCTOBER 22nd!!!

Nancy Drew. Enola Holmes. Sally Lockhart. Move over girls, it’s Jane's time!

Join young budding detective Jane Austen in her second investigation to uncover a devious diamond thief at the glitziest, most scandalous ball of the year! Inspired by Sense and Sensibility.

‘No one who had ever seen Jane Austen in her infancy would suppose her to be born to solve crimes. From her early love of sugar plums, and cleverness in hiding her expeditions into the pantry, her mother declared her far more likely to commit them. However, as Jane would counter, there was no better person to identify the culprit than the thief turned thief-catcher.’

When the headmistress invites her past favourite pupil to attend their end of term ball, Cassandra brings her younger sister, Jane, along too. Cassandra plunges into the feverish excitement of preparing for the biggest event of the year – the dresses, the dances and the boys expected from the neighbouring school.

Feeling rather excluded, sharp-witted Jane unearths the reason for the fuss – the headteacher wants to impress a rich family returned from India as the school is at risk of going bankrupt. Jane also befriends the dancing master’s assistant, a former slave, called Brandon, who is as quick to notice things as she. At the ball, a diamond necklace is stolen from a locked room and they are propelled into a race to uncover the burglar and save Brandon from gaol.

With the ever-present Austen spirit, Jane with notebook in hand, boldly overcomes the obstacles to finding the truth.

Perfect for readers aged 9-109, and for fans of Katherine Woodfine and Lucy Worsley.



Every page pulls into a world, where history, mystery and readiness to defy social boundaries beam from every page.

Jane likes to sit at home, read and enjoy life, but her older sister is determined to drag her along to a ball at her school. Once there, Jane feels out of place and soon discovers that the ball isn't so much as a social event for the students as it is a forefront to gain money for the financially suffering school. During the event, a necklace is stolen, and the blame falls on her new found friend, the dancing master's assistant and former slave.

I enjoyed reading the first book in this series, but this one was even better. (Here, I should add that it's not necessary to read the first book before diving into this one, but it does clear up some of the relationships and characters if the series is read as such.)  Jane has a very independent character and more spunk than girls at that time should have. It makes her easy to root for, fun to watch, and inspiring, too. Like in the first book, Jane befriends those, whom society wants her to ignore and look down upon. And as in the first book, it's this person who catches the blame when things go wrong. Still, this book didn't feel like a copy of the first, but rather, was a wonderful read...even better than the first, since it flowed much more smoothly.

History comes to life in these pages.  Still, the mystery as well as the characters are easy for modern middle graders can connect with. Jane has siblings she loves and gets upset with; she usually behaves but does step beyond the 'rules' when needed; and she's ready to stand up to adults and solve things on her own. She's witty and has a heart of gold. All of this sits in a historical setting with fitting dialogue, mannerisms, and standards. And it's still fun. There's the needed tension to keep the pages turning and heart to keep the characters sympathetic. There are unexpected twists and turns, although the mystery isn't extremely woven, and the reader can see the ending coming before Jane does. 

This is a wonderful continuation of an interesting mystery series, and I have no doubt young sleuths and readers fans will enjoy this one. Plus, adult fans of Jane Austen will even enjoy taking a look inside.

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