Monday, June 12, 2017

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: POISON IS NOT POLITE by Robin Stevens

About Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: I have been taking part in "Marvelous Middle Grade Monday," the brainchild of author Shannon Messenger, for years now. I usually post on my other blog, Middle Grade Mafioso, but couldn't resist introducing this series to our Project Mayhem readers!

About the "Wells and Wong Mystery" series: Back in 2015 I was a first round panelist for the Cybils awards and read the first book in the series, Murder Is Bad Manners. I found it delightfully funny and engrossing, and even though the rest of the judges (who, alas, had not themselves been raised in English boarding schools as I had) failed to buckle under to my pressure, I was a fan. You can read my review and interview with the author, Robin Stevens, HERE.

About POISON IS NOT POLITE: Book One took place at Deepdean school. Book 2 takes place at Daisy Wells' country house, Fallingford, during the school holidays, which is also the occasion of Daisy's 14th birthday. Daisy has invited her friend, Hazel Wong, to stay--as well as a couple of her other chums. During the birthday tea, one of the adults staying there--who also happens to be a bounder and a cad--is poisoned. It's up to the girls to discover who the murderer is. Unfortunately, the signs all seem to point to a member of Daisy's family.

Why I Liked It:
Book 2 was a bit darker than book one. Daisy's mother is enamored with the caddish Mr. Curtis and the girls see them kissing in the library. Also, the poisoning is described vividly. But the relationship between the aristocratic Daisy and the Hong Kong born Hazel has deepened to become more a relationship of equals. (In Book 1, Daisy appears to appreciate Hazel as someone she can boss about. In Book 2, she has come to see Hazel as being level-headed and organized--the perfect foil for her more impetuous self.

Set in the 1930s, every description and behaviour seems spot on. Americans took to Downton Abbey in droves, and mysteries are ever popular. I can see a middle grade reader who likes history, mystery, and humour gobbling these up. (Did you spot the British spellings? Done in honour of the series.)

About the Author:
Robin Stevens was born in California and grew up in an Oxford college, across the road from the house where Alice in Wonderland lived. She has been making up stories all her life.

When she was twelve, her father handed her a copy of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and she realised that she wanted to be either Hercule Poirot or Agatha Christie when she grew up. When it occurred to her that she was never going to be able to grow her own spectacular walrus moustache, she decided that Agatha Christie was the more achieveable option.

She spent her teenage years at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she’d get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn’t). She then went to university, where she studied crime fiction. Robin now works full-time as a writer and lives in London with her bearded dragon, Watson.

You can visit her website HERE, or follow her on Twitter @redbreastedbird

Credit: Alexandra Dao


  1. Love the titles in this series. I was glad to read your review since I'm unfamiliar with both. I'll be looking for them as the time period and plot sound intriguing.

  2. I really like the titles too. I'm really into mysteries right now so maybe I'll check them out.

  3. I love period pieces. Think teens who like history will be drawn to these mysteries. I love English humor. I'm intrigued.

  4. Oh my gosh, I think I reviewed the third book on my blog! This is such an awesome series! I'm happy that the descriptions of the 1930s were accurate too. (I'm not much of a history wiz so honestly I don't really know).

  5. I have yet to read the second Wells and Wong book, but happy to hear that Daisy and Hazel's relationship is on equal terms. I did really like the mystery of the first book.

  6. Believe it or not, I've participated in Marvelous Middle Grade Monday since 2010!

    Yes, I'm one of those Americans who flocked to Downton Abbey in droves. But British humour is the best, and there wasn't a lot of humour in Downton. More of a soap opera, what? These books sound like pure fun.

  7. I was taken by the title right away. I will have to get to this series. They sound like so much fun. Thanks for the post.

  8. This series sounds great! I looked up the first book, and I will definitely buy it! The sequel sounds great too. Thanks for the review!

  9. This was such an intriguing post, definitely following her on twitter. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I loved MURDER IS BAD MANNERS and love how mystery has really seen an uptick in mid-grade these last few years.


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!