- Vivian Teo
READ & REVIEWED: Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens
Updated: Dec 26, 2020
In this intriguing series by Robin Stevens, two teenage girls attending boarding school form their own detective society to solve murder mysteries in 1930s England.
I'm absolutely hooked on this upper MG/early YA series now - Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens - which centres on two thirteen-year-old girls, Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells, who had formed their own detective club to investigate murder mysteries while attending boarding school in 1930s England. Other than the well set-up mysteries that'll have you itching to find out 'who did it', I also love that the stories are told from the perspective of Hazel, a Hong Kong Chinese. Hazel's voice is so well-written you feel for her when she recounts her rocky start in school and encounters racist jibes. Daisy, from the English upper class, is a more complex character, whom you will feel exasperated with at times, but nonetheless will still root for. I was absolutely blown away by the research done by Stevens, particularly for the sixth book - A Spoonful of Murder - when Hazel and Daisy go to Hazel's hometown of Hong Kong (I'm not from Hong Kong but many of us here would be familiar with the city). I thought I would spot some inaccuracies (I must admit as a Chinese, I do get a little miffed when I come across stories with inaccurate references to Chinese names or the Chinese language) but instead I found myself being transported to 1930s Hong Kong. I could feel the tension in Hazel's traditional household where her father has two wives, taste the dim sum at a teahouse and smell the incense at a Chinese temple. And to be able to get to this level of accuracy must be no easy feat for a British-American author. As Stevens wrote in her Author's Notes, she was aware of how wide the gap was between Hazel and herself. As she said, "A British-American upbringing is not a Hong Kong Chinese one." Though this series is recommended for ages 9+, I feel it is more suitable for mature upper MG readers or early teens. In the books I have read, there are references to girls canoodling, girl pashes and an extramarital affair. Maybe no big deal as there are already murders happening but just fyi, in case your kid come ask you, okay?
Disclaimer: I borrowed the books from the library, and my opinions and reviews here are strictly my and my family’s own.
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