Happy October, everyone!
I’m back with another book review and this time I’m reviewing “The Murder of Mr. Wickham” by Claudia Gray! I’ve read other books by her before, but this is the first straight-up mystery that I’ve read by this author.
Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:
“The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a house party, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst.
Nearly everyone at the house party is a suspect, so it falls to the party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery: Juliet Tilney, the smart and resourceful daughter of Catherine and Henry, eager for adventure beyond Northanger Abbey; and Jonathan Darcy, the Darcys’ eldest son, whose adherence to propriety makes his father seem almost relaxed. The unlikely pair must put aside their own poor first impressions and uncover the guilty party—before an innocent person is sentenced to hang.”
The book contains murder, some historical-era-related sexism, and discussion of attempted sexual assault.
Plot Development: 3.5 out of 5 stars
As someone who is not familiar with reading all of Jane Austen’s novels outside of Pride & Prejudice, I found it a bit hard to follow the main plot at times. Essentially, this novel is Jane Austen fanfiction—characters from her various novels all meet for a dinner party, including the titular Mr. Wickham himself. There are some original characters since two children of two of the couples appear in this book, but most of the characters were originally created by Austen.
However, I do think the mystery overall made sense – the pacing could be tighter in the middle, but it was overall a good mystery. I can’t say much about it without giving away some major spoilers. The bad news is that because I’m not familiar with Austen’s works, it’s hard to refer to past events
Character Development: 2 out of 5 stars
Since I barely knew any of Austen’s novels, it was hard for me to connect with any of the characters. It was easier to do so with the original characters, Juliet and Jonathan, but even then I could tell that they felt too constrained and came off as wooden at times.
It’s also hard for everyone to portray their own unique sense of personality when everyone is deeply suspicious of each other. It’s even harder when virtually no one liked Wickham to begin with and care nothing about him being murdered as well (other than the damage to their own reputations being associated with this murder). Because everyone was constantly suspicious of each other (for good reason considering the circumstances, but still), it made it even harder to connect to the characters and their varied relationships with each other.
Overall, I’m rating this book 3 out of 5 stars!
I suspect this murder mystery will be more enjoyable to Jane Austen fans. However, if you’re not familiar with Austen, I either suggest reading some of Austen’s works before reading this one or skipping it entirely.
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