With her novel “The Friday Society,” author Adrienne Kress aims to appeal to girls (teens) who want to read action/adventure stories about teenage girls. The three girls in the story work for important men, but they are all quite competent in their own right — one being far more competent than the man she works for.
Cora is a lab assistant to a powerful Lord, who while very involved in politics is an inventor on the side (secretly). Cora works on commissions and inventions in his secret lab. She is very nonplussed when he hires a person who appears to be her replacement, a handsome young aristocrat.
Nellie is the assistant to a very talented magician. Of the three men in the story, he becomes the most involved in what the girls eventually do. The Great Raheem is kind not only to Nellie but to those around him. He’s really the best of the male characters in the story, and this reader, at least, would like to learn more about him.
Michiko is Japanese. She is an unusual character. She speaks little English. She left Japan after training with a samurai (in secret because such training was not allowed) but realized that she would never be presented with her samurai sword (making her a true samurai). When the opportunity arose to go to England with Kallum, she took it. Kallum turns out to be a self-absorbed, abusive, dishonest person, but he is her only way of surviving in England.
A chance meeting of the girls begins their adventure. The fate of a murdered man has them wondering, murdered flower girls have them concerned, and a bomb that devastates St. Paul Cathedral has them actively searching for the perpetrators.
There are a few problems with the story. While the setting is 1900, modern terms are bandied about. For example, one of the girls thinks she looks “hot” and asks someone to “back off.” There are also a few too many bad guys, and the plot is a bit convoluted because of that.
Note that while the story is set in the past, it’s Steampunk, so there are lots of unusual inventions and twisted realities involved.
However, the ending leaves the way for another mystery for the girls to solve, and most readers will want to hang around to find out what these girls will get themselves into next. It’s fun, and it’s fantasy.
Please note: This review is based on the advanced reader’s copy provided by the publisher, Putnam, for review purposes.
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