JANE AUSTEN INVESTIGATES: THE BURGLAR’S BALL, by Julia Golding, Lion Fiction, Oct. 22, 2021, Paperback, $10.99 (ages 9-12)
A young Jane Austen sets out to uncover a diamond thief in the middle-grade mystery Jane Austen Investigates: The Burglar’s Ball, by Julia Golding.
When the headmistress invites her past favorite pupil to attend their end of term ball, Cassandra brings her younger sister, Jane, along too. Cassandra plunges into the feverish excitement of preparing for the biggest event of the year — the dresses, the dances and the boys expected from the neighboring school.
Feeling rather excluded, sharp-witted Jane unearths the reason for the fuss — the headteacher wants to impress a rich family returned from India as the school is at risk of going bankrupt. Jane also befriends the dancing master’s assistant, a former slave, called Brandon, who is as quick to notice things as she. At the ball, a diamond necklace is stolen from a locked room and they are propelled into a race to uncover the burglar and save Brandon from gaol. —Synopsis provided by Lion Fiction
The Burglar’s Ball is author Julia Golding’s second novel in the Jane Austen Investigates series. And though there are a few mentions/characters from the first novel, it’s not imperative that you read The Abbey Mystery first.
Jane is, of course, the main character in both books, taking on a sort of Nancy Drew persona within the confines of Regency expectations. Jane is clever and willing to push the boundaries of societal norms.
Golding’s prose is sophisticated without feeling dated. She gives readers the essence of Jane while remaining accessible to a modern, younger audience. And nods to Austen’s Sense and Sensibility add further interest.
Like its predecessor, The Burglar’s Ball is fast-paced with humor and drama smartly intertwined.