I am a Melanie Dickerson fan all around. I will read basically anything she writes, though admittedly, some of her books are not as good as others. This was not the case with A Spy’s Devotion. I swear this is the best book of everything I have read from her(and I’ve read all her books so far.)
I can’t review this book without talking a little about her other books and comparing them a bit. I love her fairytale stories, though it did seem that after Healer’s Apprentice, the quality and originality went slowly yet steadily down with each successive book. Maybe because A Spy’s Devotion is the first a completely new series(new era, new setting, new everything), but this book was OUT. STANDING. It felt fresh, original, and almost like someone else had written it! It didn’t feel like Melanie at all until I was deeper in and I started recognizing the warmth and gentility that always shows through her writing. Needless to say, I was blown away by the quality of this book. I dearly hope each other book in this series turns out just as amazing as this one, and they don’t lack in quality and originality like the successive books in her fairytale series.
BUT. Now to the book itself. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this as I went into it, since it’s a totally new setting and historical era than Melanie’s previous books. So I went in with an open mind and enjoyed every. single. bit of it. The plot was VERY interesting, though you could see where it was going and pretty much what was going to happen. I was interested mostly in seeing how the characters went about it and how they would each be a part of it. I liked Julia’s growth and how she dealt with her circumstances and how her family treated her. Several times, Julia thought to herself how she’d always tried to keep societies’ rules and never do anything that would harm her reputation or cause rumors about her, but due to other people, all her hard work to remain above question was tossed in the dirt. I thought this was very relateable and would ring true in many readers’ lives: so often we try our best to do the right thing but other people can so easily make our lives come crashing down, through no fault of our own. It wasn’t preachy at all. Julia has faith and in the later half of the book she learned to pray more, but the principals in this book held strong even though there wasn’t much about God or any Bible verses. This is the kind of Christian fiction I enjoy.
I loved the characters. Julia was a sweet character, not perfect by any means. Her cousin Phoebe, though sometimes annoying in her obsessions, was a good friend and companion for Julia. Again, what happens to their friendship was very realistic and I think will be relateable to many readers.
Nicholas was awesome XD A perfect gentleman and I shipped him and Julia so hard XD They’re relationship was quite slow, but I didn’t mind it dragging. I enjoyed the time they spent together, trying to be ‘just friends’. Nicholas’s sister Leorah was a definite favorite. She was a breathe of fresh air in the midst of the perfectionist society they lived in. She made me laugh on more than one occasion.
I liked the fact that both Julia and Nicholas has backstories that affected the plot and their lives. They weren’t shallow characters at all; they had a really good depth.
I was eager to read this, simply because I will read anything Melanie Dickerson writes, but this absolutely blew me away. I can’t wait to buy a physical copy to keep on my bookshelf.
Thank you, Netgalley!