Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? by Eleanor Updale

The latest in a growing number of Victorian historical teen books. Sounds boring, doesn’t it? Not a chance.

The protagonist is a petty thief. Upon pursuit by the police, he crashed through a skylight, and was patched back together by a physician with something to prove. He’s been the showpiece in a never-ending whirl of academic lectures for the past few years, and his jail time is nearly up. One lecture in particular caught his interest– the one on London’s brand-new sewer system. He’s nothing if not ambitious–this is going to be his ticket to a career as a master thief. And while he’s at it, he sets out to forge himself a new identity as the gentleman Montmorency.

It’s hard not to be admire the ingenuity of a story that revolves around the sewer system as a plot device. And even though Montmorency is undeniably and unapologetically a criminal, you’ll find yourself hoping he gets away with it all. This is definitely more of a plot-driven book than a character-driven one, but it’s a fast-paced and fun read, with an unpredictable yet satisfying conclusion. One of these days, I’ll have to pick up the sequels, Montmorency on the Rocks and Montmorency and the Assassins.

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