From School Library Journal
Gr 6-9–Resentful of her stepmother, her secretive older sisters, and the whole code of ladylike conduct in early-19th-century England, 12-year-old Kat Stephenson takes action. She chops off her hair, learns to use her mother's magical mirror, and fends off both well-meaning and threatening adults. Posing as a highwayman, she captures husbands for her sisters. There is more than a little wish-fulfillment here as the ignored younger sister–constantly criticized for her curiosity and impulsive behavior–discovers her exalted status while providing for her less-adept older siblings. The Regency world is drawn in broad strokes, and some secondary characters are more caricature than convincing, but the sisters–clearly close to the 21st century in their basic outlooks, even if Elissa, the eldest, fancies herself a Gothic heroine–are appealing and their relationship is believable. Regency romance and fantasy adventure all in one, this is a satisfying read and a promising beginning to a trilogy that is sure to be popular with middle school girls.–Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This first title in the Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson series evokes Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Alfred Noyes, and Libba Bray with tongue firmly in cheek. It’s 1803 and 12-year-old Kat must deal with her heritage of as-yet-untrained magic powers while saving her eldest sister from marriage to a wealthy cad old enough to be her father and helping the middle sister connect with her true love. Also in the mix are a loving but ineffectual father, a vicious stepmother, a dashing highwayman, and the mysterious “Order” of witches trying to recruit Kat for proper training in magic. Although it’s unlikely that young readers will be familiar with all the literary references, Burgis’ debut title rides on its swift pace and the delightfully feisty Kat, whose fearless and frequently impulsive actions will have readers cheering her on. Historical-fiction fans will enjoy this quick romp, and romance readers may discover Regency England’s charms, perhaps even enough to seek out Pride and Prejudice and other inspirations. Grades 6-10. --Debbie Carton