Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose by T. A. Willberg

3 stars. Marion Lane is well into her second year at Miss Brickett’s when she receives a note “One of the new recruits is not to be trusted”; uh-oh, there are three of them so who is not what they seem and how dangerous are they? Marion jumps into another mystery that teems with secrets, deceptions, and murder. The well developed characters move through the tightly plotted story as Marion figures out who to trust and who to fear…will she choose correctly or be the next victim? I really liked this book, it’s similar to Harry Potter/Hogwarts under Delores Umbridge but with grown ups and steampunk gadgets instead of magic. There were some slow spots and convoluted manipulations to get characters in place and set up the ending but nothing major. The book is very readable and there was a scene, (just a quick paragraph), near the end that was so poignant and touching I had to stop reading for a minute to compose myself. Well done and perfect to wrap up a plot point.

Now, let me go a bit further and admit I was wrong about something! Book one was a total fail for me and I wrote a very scathing review; Deadly Rose, however, hit all the high spots for me as a reader. The gadgets were cool and the whole concept of Miss Brickett’s as a secret underground sort of helper to the Metropolitan Police is a neat setup. The way this one is plotted out with the interactions between the characters as things go wrong and fall apart, then how the characters grow and develop is really well done. Book one just missed the mark but book three is due to be published this fall (2023) and I have it on my highly anticipated list-trust me, this is a trilogy worth diving into.

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