I just knew I would love this book. It had all the ingredients for me to love this book, and did I love it? Yes, yes I did. I loved it a lot, and I am delighted that this won’t be the only book about Sophie and Lilian.
The book switches between Sophie, Lilian, Billy, Joe, but our main focus in the story is Sophie and Lilian. Joe only occasionally gets a part in the spotlight, Billy gets some more attention, but the 2 that speak the most are the girls. And what a delight it was to hear their voices. Sophie, a girl who lost everything not that long ago, still trying to find her place in the world, still trying to figure out how to survive now she has no money. Even with all that, she is a strong character and she quickly finds a job at the magnificent Sinclairs department store that is about to open to public (more on Sinclairs later in this book). I felt sorry for her and how people acted towards her. She was just trying to make a good impression, but apparently overdressed. And only for that, and probably because of her mannerisms, the girls (especially Edith) treat her with disdain. I just wanted to shake those girls. They only thought about themselves, and they were just terrible.
But even with that going on, and the fact that Sophie is accused of stealing the precious bird (she was at the wrong time, at the wrong place, looking at the wrong things), she keeps strong, of course she has moments that she just doesn’t look forward to things, but she keeps defending her pride, she keeps on the lookout for other things to do. I love that. I am always worried that when stuff goes down, that our main character will just melt in a puddle of complaining, whining and sadness. Luckily this girl is a strong one.
Even when faced with super bad people, she keeps her chin up and tries to find a way to get away from things and to save those she loves/likes/cares about.
At the beginning, when we first met her, she was still a bit shaky, feeling alone, but at the end, we had a strong woman who knew she had friends to rely on, friends who will cheer her up and are there for her when she needs them.
Lilian was a great character and I loved her job in the Sinclairs department store, but I also loved how even with her heritage and even with all her richness, she took on a job, cares more about theatre and getting famous. That takes courage, to go against the wishes of your parents. She also had a big heart, and I loved how she instantly became friends with Sophie. I also loved how smart she was, at times she seemed a bit ditzy, a bit not there, but then she would do something and you would think totally different.
Like Sophie, she is a brave character, willing to defend and help her friends. Even her friends enemies. She didn’t need to help that person, but she did. I loved the snarky remark she made at the end of that though.
Billy, a good character, with a good heart, but he will really need to learn to work and not just wander off or show disrespect. Though lucky we do see him grow in this book. At the beginning I was often a bit annoyed with him, though I did love his love for books. But I also disliked that he acted like crap on the job. Not everyone can just get that job, his uncle did his best for him, and he treats it like it is nothing. Bleh.
But he did have a big role in this book, and the things he could do were pretty awesome.
Joe, I am still not entirely sure what to think of him. At times I really liked him, and he did have a good heart, but at times I didn’t like him, didn’t trust him and worried that he might do something to our girls.
Later as the book continued I could see that he was just a guy that got stuck in a situation and who wishes it was all different.
The story, it was magnificent, it pulled me in and didn’t let me go until I finished the book. The descriptions of the world we are in, it was great. Though, I have to really give applause for the amazing details and descriptions that Sinclair Department Store got. I truly could just see me in the store, wandering around through the various departments, trying on hats at the millinery, eating candy at the sweets department, trying on dresses, or just wandering around and looking at the live mannequins showing the latest fashion. Or I could imagine myself having a very fancy brunch with a good, dear friend. Giggling over tea, scones and other delicious things.
The mystery and the whodunit? It was engaging and fun to try to track the traces, to search for clues, to think about this and that persons actions.
The whole why the bird was stolen, it went further than that it was valuable and worth a lot of money, and I really liked that. It gave the story something extra, and made it all more and more dangerous.
The ending was great and it gives us promises of many great books to follow. Hopefully they all have some great mysteries, and hopefully we will find out more about Sophie’s past, about her father, about all the connections that are probably going to pop up throughout the books.
All in all, a fantastic book about mystery, crime, corruption and more. Great characters and wonderful description of the world surrounding these characters. Highly recommended to all looking for a great Middle Grade Mystery book. I will be anxiously awaiting the second book (yes, there will be more).