Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone in town thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl”; even her mother is desperate to marry her off for security. But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father—a former Musketeer and her greatest champion. Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for a new kind of Musketeer: women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a swordfight. With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels for the first time like she has a purpose, like she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her first target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming, and breathlessly attractive—and he might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to lean on her friends, listen to her own body, and decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted.
I’ve been excited for this book before it was even announced that it was going to be a book. I’ve followed Lillie on Twitter for a few years, so I saw her talk about her fencing book, and I was so eager to read it when it finally sold (because it had to sell, it sounded freaking amazing). A gender-bent retelling of the Three Musketeers, with a disabled main character and a sisterhood that likes to stab things. Yes, it sounded incredible. Trigger warnings: ableism, internalized ableism, implied sexual assault blood
This book is freaking amazing. It feels like it is written with such love.
I adored Tania, a girl who feels so much, a disabled girl who kicks ass, a girl who is not held back by her illness, but also has good days and bad days. She’s allowed to cry; tears aren’t something to be ashamed of. She’s allowed to be emotional. She’s allowed to be completely herself; sickness and all. She felt so full, and it was so wonderful.
The sense of sisterhood is so strong in this book, and one of the best things is that is blossoms of the course of it. It’s not an instant thing, it grows over time, and seeing the girls come together was something incredible. Especially since I adored all the side characters. Theà, who’s every thought seems tumble out of her mouth. Aria, who is more reserved and has a tough exterior, but has so much love underneath. Portia, who is downright hilarious and ready to take on the world if need be. Henri, is a dork and simply wonderful. Every character had their own personality, their own journey, and they all felt so real. I loved them all so much.
Lillie is a top notch, masterful plotter. I’m still sitting here in shock at what happened. The strings she pulled, the way she crafted scenes, the way she put things together. I am in awe. Everything piece slots completely into place. Everything works together so well. It’s so, so smart. Seriously, the mystery, the hidden schemes, the secrets hiding behind every comment, all of it so brilliant and so brilliantly done.
I do want to briefly mention that this book has a touch of romance, and gglkjlkjlkzlk it was amazing. It’s not a huge part of the overall plot, and I do not want to say much to avoid spoilers. It is a fantastic take on the [redacted] trope, and just oh my gosh, it’s incredible.
One of my favorite things about this book is that it recognizes that swords are super freaking cool, but they are not the only source of strength. Strength can come from so many places, and it looks different for everybody. There is a strength inside, and strength to knowing your worth and what you can do and how you can protect the people you love. A journey to find that strength, to believe in it. Just, it’s so amazing.
This book is incredibly amazing. It was everything that I wanted it to be. Girls dueling in ballgowns, a disabled girl being badass, a sisterhood of girls who like to stab things and twist men around their fingers with a coy smile. It’s such a fantastic book.