Review of Premeditated Myrtle, by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Premeditated Myrtle

by Elizabeth C. Bunce
read by Bethan Rose Young

Recorded Books, October 2020. 8 hours, 12 minutes.
Review written September 25, 2022, from a library eaudiobook
Starred Review
2022 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #9 General Children’s Fiction

I am so happy I finally listened to this book! I’ve meant to read it since it came out in 2020. But October is when I’m reading for the Cybils Awards, and that year I was reading for both Young Adult Speculative Fiction and Young Adult Fiction, so I put off reading Myrtle, but finally found it again now that I listen to eaudiobooks. I’m afraid my Cybils reading is starting up again this year, but some time I look forward to reading three more books about Myrtle, the 12-year-old detective from the 1890s.

Premeditated Myrtle is the first book about Myrtle, a girl who lives in England in the town of Swinburne with her widower father and her governess, a very capable young lady from French Guiana. Myrtle’s father is a prosecutor, and Myrtle is very interested in his work. So when their next door neighbor is found dead in her bath, Myrtle is curious about her death.

The neighbor, a grumpy old lady named Miss Woodhouse, always took a bath at the same time each morning. So why would she have taken one in the middle of the night? And why is there pollen and mud on her nightgown? And whose tracks are in the mud by the pond? And where is the cat named Peony? Worst of all, why is Mr. Hamm, the gardener, burning Miss Woodhouse’s collection of prize lillies and lying about it?

The mystery takes several twists and turns, in some ways reminiscent of the penny dreadful books that Myrtle enjoys. But she finds an actual case more challenging than what the book characters navigate.

Myrtle’s a kid, but the author does a nice job of giving her a believable amount of agency in this story, with Myrtle also being aware when her detecting goes against the rules for what “young ladies of quality” should be doing.

The whole thing is lots of fun, and I’m glad that the fourth book about Myrtle was recently published, so I can enjoy more of her adventures.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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