Connecting everyone to the world of story

Image Alt

Story Links

  /  Reviews   /  Middle Grade Readers   /  Her Majesty’s League of Remarkable Young Ladies

Her Majesty’s League of Remarkable Young Ladies

By Alison D. Stegert

Reviewed by Lara Cain Gray

Mischief is afoot, and Queen Victoria is not amused begins the enticing cover blurb of Alison D. Stegert’s action-packed historical adventure for middle grade readers. In the spirit of the Enola Holmes series, this one is perfect for readers 10+ who admire rule-breaking, code-cracking, weapon-wielding ‘young ladies’ with a mystery to solve.
It’s 1889, and 14 year old Winifred Weatherby is a gifted inventor (or ‘inventress’, as the era favours). She longs to become a celebrated engineer, like her father, and win the Petit Prix at the World’s Fair in Paris. Unfortunately, she is limited by being a) female and b) ensconced at the Beacon Academy for Poised and Polished Young Ladies where her scientific mind is redirected to concerns of etiquette and deportment.
But all is not as it seems! Winnie’s father goes missing, just as Queen Victoria begins receiving menacing messages from a mysterious Mr Magpie. This is a job for a group of brave, smart, creative sleuths who can fly under the radar and blend into royal social engagements with aplomb. Winnie is recruited as the in-house scientist for Her Majesty’s League of Remarkable Young Ladies! In secret headquarters below Madam Tussaud’s, Winnie agrees to create ingenious spy gadgets for the troupe – as long as they help find her father.
Stegert’s world building is grounded in painstaking research, particularly as concerns the restrictions on women and girls in Victorian England, from stifling education to cumbersome clothing. But young readers love nothing better than a character who defies conventions! Some of the best scenes in the story involve the girls’ creative repurposing of the very things that should impede their adventures. Billowing skirts and corsets, for example, are excellent hiding places for evidence; canes and umbrellas are handy for fencing. It is a pleasure to learn more about the ‘chatelaine’, too, a decorative belt hook that held useful women’s tools, such as scissors, keys and smelling salts for easy access.  Once again, how perfect to exchange a dainty dangling sewing tool for a pad and pen, and invisible ink!
Embedded in these spy shenanigans are deeper subplots about friendship, teamwork, responsibility, sacrifice and loyalty – all as meaningful to today’s young people as those in 1889. This was also an era of colonisation and immigration, bringing questions of cultural ‘otherness’ into the mix; the young ladies are of mixed origins. It will be a useful classroom conversation starter about women in STEM and should prompt opportunities for additional research or creative extension activities.
Chicken House Books, 2023
Alison D. Stegert 

Lara Cain Gray’s book The Grown Up’s Guide To Picture Books is being published in September this year.

1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

Error: Contact form not found.

Free shipping
for orders over 50%