Treason by Jo MacAuley (Secrets & Spies, #1)

Received from NetGalley for review. 

3.5 stars

In Treason we follow Beth Johnson, fourteen year old actress and spy, as she completes the tasks given to her by spymaster Alan Strange, tasks that become increasingly more complex and dangerous, until Beth finds herself amidst a plot to kill the King that needs to be stopped.

I found reading Treason very much like reading The Girl in the Mask, not necessarily because they were similar in plot and protagonists (there are some similarities but that’s to be expected of young adult historical fiction), but because I mostly enjoyed both of them and felt that both of them could have been so much more. More exciting, more intense, more adventurous, just…more. There is no denying that Treason is a good little story, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, something about it just felt a bit flat, though I’m not sure what exactly.

I quite liked Beth, unrealistic as it would be for a young girl to be a spy in the 1600’s. She was spunky, sassy and strong and worked hard as a spy to gain the respect of Strange and be entrusted with tougher missions. The other characters – wonderfully introduced at the beginning of the book as the ‘cast of characters’ – were enjoyable to read; Ralph was my absolute favourite, and I liked how dastardly the bad guys were. It also made a nice change for the male lead to turn into a pile of mush; John Turner is rendered practically speechless the first time he meets Beth and it made a rather nice change. Whatever you think of Beth, simpering and ridiculous around men she is not.

I think Treason will definitely appeal to younger readers, but I was hoping for a slightly more sophisticated plot, not one that took so long to really get going – after a gripping prologue it took sixty pages for any real action and mystery to start, and I wasn’t really interested in what happened until nearly the end – and had some shudder inducing clichés in the characters language: ‘I shall have him, by God!’ just sounds silly to me, regardless of the context. It was a fun enough little read, fast paced and intriguing enough, but nothing ground-breaking.

Read: Feb 19th 2014

3.5/5 stars


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