Today’s featured book is Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce. And it is the day to wish it a Happy Book Birthday too!! (It happens to be my dad’s birthday too; while I miss him dearly everyday, I am glad for all the memories I have. And for the books he never refused to get for me, no matter how full the bookshelves were already!)
When I was invited for the blog tour of this book, I knew I could not refuse. A spunky 12-year old girl detective with a mind of her own in Victorian England! Yes, I thought; of course, I am going to read this book (and the series too).
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The Blog Tour and M.H.D.S.
Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for inviting me on this blog tour for The Myrtle Hardcastle series (Premeditated Myrtle and How to Get Away With Myrtle), and for the delightful ARCs of these books.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen that my latest stories feature Myrtle as I go hunting for Peony who is hiding on IG posts all around. You can definitely look for Peony too if you wish – some tags to check for — #doublemyrtle and/or #elizabethcbunce
Who is Peony, you ask? She is Myrtle’s feline assistant, of course, and this is how she looks.
The Book Review
In Premeditated Myrtle, readers will be delighted by the quick, witty, and fearless Myrtle Hardcastle, a Young Lady of Quality with an unseemly obsession with forensic science. When Myrtle’s neighbor, a wealthy spinster and breeder of valuable rare flowers, dies under Mysterious Circumstances, Myrtle is the first to notice anything amiss.
With the help of her unflappable governess and brave kitten, Peony, Myrtle takes it upon herself to follow the clues official investigators overlooked. Only, as more evidence emerges, she begins to believe that the town prosecutor, her own beloved father, has arrested the wrong man. While her classmates sip tea and fawn over frilly dresses, Myrtle pours over toxicology textbooks, interrogates suspects, and does the one thing no Young Lady of Quality is ever supposed to do: she Goes Outside Alone After Dark.
Myrtle Hardcastle may be just a twelve-year-old girl, but she is certainly not the type to sit by while grown men botch a murder investigation. Armed with her father’s law books and her mum’s microscope, she is irrepressible.
I grew up on a steady diet of books, which included many mysteries, ranging from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Five Findouters (my favorite) to the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy series as well Poirot and Perry Mason. Of course, I cannot forget Sherlock Holmes. And now I am totally a fan of Enola Holmes too. If you found yourself nodding at any of these things, even one, you will fall in love with Myrtle!
What I Loved
Of course, the clever titles!!! And then….
Elizabeth Bunce gives us characters to love, to like, to dislike, to hate, and everything else in between. I loved the truly diverse cast of characters, considering this is set in Victorian England (and their appearance makes sense too).
Myrtle Hardcastle is precocious, curious, passionate about forensics, and certainly not what a Young Lady of Quality should be like. Her desire to uncover the truth leads her to sticky situations; I love how she works to fix any mistakes she made the moment she realizes it. It is wonderful to see how her governess, Miss Judson, lets her be Myrtle while providing a voice of calm and wisdom when needed. I think Miss Judson is my favorite character (I love Myrtle too, but…)
And of course, I loved Arthur Hardcastle (Myrtle’s dad), Cook, Peony the cat, as well as the rest of the cast too! I almost forgot, Mr.Blakeney too….I know I would love to know someone like him.
The Plot and the Prose
I loved all the twists and turns. While I had a pretty good idea of the main culprit early on, there were many things that took me by surprise, and I loved that the story kept me thinking and on my toes throughout. It was the process of uncovering the clues leading to that final who-did-it discovery that made it a fun read.
Myrtle’s first person narration, Dear Reader, takes us (the readers, I mean), on a exciting journey, sprinkled with wit and smartness. I loved how each chapter starts off with a quote from H.M.Hardcastle’s Principles of Detection setting the tone for that part. And fun, interesting footnotes placed every few pages make the reading more enjoyable!
One start of the chapter quote —
Never let your Investigations be hampered by outdated conventions of decorum. The pursuit of justice cannot be fettered by so-called “propriety.” — H.M. Hardcastle, Principles of Detection
One statement/phrase and its footnote —
She let me figure things out on my own, asking challenging questions as I went. * [and its footnote –] * a pedagogical technique known as the Socratic Method, named after the ancient Greek philosopher, which I understood was likewise popular with law schools. And vexed parents.
And the Other Side
Not much to complain about really except that I felt the book was a bit longer than expected. I have to admit I skimmed through some parts in the middle, but otherwise, this is a truly delightful tale of mystery, well, Myrtle!
Definitely worth reading – for all age groups – regardless of the recommended age! It’ll keep you guessing, as well as delight and surprise you throughout. Myrtle Hardcastle is here to stay, and solve all that’s unsolvable!
I for one, am halfway through How to Get Away With Myrtle, and found it hard to get away from reading that to complete this review. Yes, it is keeping me hooked too.
Get it Here
If you are looking for a gift to get for someone this holiday season, make this one of them. No matter who they are, this book will become a loved gift…
More about Elizabeth C. Bunce
Elizabeth C. Bunce grew up on a steady diet of Sherlock Holmes, Trixie Belden, and Quincy, M.E., and always played the lead prosecutor in mock trial. She has never had a governess, and no one has ever accused her of being irrepressible, but a teacher did once call her “argumentative”—which was entirely untrue, and she can prove it. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and their cats. Premeditated Myrtle is her first book for middle-grade readers. You can find her online at elizabethcbunce.com.
“A joyful thing to behold…Set in Victorian England, this mystery gleefully overturns sexist norms and celebrates independent women of intellect, with Myrtle Hardcastle leading the charge.” —Booklist starred review
“Premeditated Myrtle is a book young readers will love and adults may well sneak out of backpacks and off of nightstands for their own enjoyment… Here’s hoping for more adventures with this delightful, heroic protagonist.” —BookPage starred review
Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for inviting me on this blog tour for The Myrtle Hardcastle series (Premeditated Myrtle and How to Get Away With Myrtle), and for the delightful ARCs of these books. All opinions are my own.
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, would you read this book? Do let me know. And would love to hear your recommendations for mystery novels that will be great for a cozy read, something like the Myrtle series featured here!