The new "History Mysteries" series from American Girl takes on the tenement world of New York City in 1914, with an emphasis on the suffrage movement. Since her father's death, eleven-year-old Susan O'Neal has to help her working mother by looking after her younger sisters, cooking dinner, and worrying over rent payments. Enter their new boarder, the mysterious Englishwoman Bea. Soon Susan and her mom are both enmeshed in the burgeoning votes for women world. Its line cuts and concluding chapter with historical background are good, but the mystery is weak and the writing never rises above genre level. And what tenement school would give an eleven-year-old Middlemarch to read?
Pleasant Company's new "History Mystery" series will be welcomed by those who have devoured their other books. There's much going right in these books, which combine history, suspense, and the strong heroines Pleasant Company is known for. The series launches with a set of five stories and there will be more for those who become addicted, though unlike their beloved doll-inspired series, these heroines will change. There is a great range in the mysteries, challenges faced by heroines, locales, and time periods. Susan wonders if the curious boarder is responsible for her mother's disappearance and the mystery takes her into a discovery of the suffragist movement in Secrets on 26th Street.