The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
“I do not need reasons to exist. I do not need to justify the space I take up in this world.”
We return this week to the second book in the historical fantasy series of novels with very long titles. Although I would never read a series out of order the first time around (I’m too much attached to chronological orders and backstories), this second book of the series is absolutely my favorite, due in no small part to its main character. I already spent a paragraph in my previous review expressing my affection for her, and now that she’s our leading lady I will no doubt spend this entire review rhapsodizing about her. (Also maybe the dragons. I always love books with dragons.) You have been warned.
Ah, where to start. While The Gentleman’s Guide had a main character I had nearly nothing in common with, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy stars a main character with whom I share disturbingly numerous similarities. Felicity is fascinated by science, which for a lady of the 1700s is quite scandalous. In fact, most of the book revolves around her quest for knowledge of the sciences, albeit with quite a few unexpected turns along the way.
She’s also a girl who’s never fit in with other girls, or boys, or anyone. When her friends become interested in parties and dresses and men, she finds it hard to understand or relate to them. Although she does come to realize during the book that girls can be simultaneously frilly and feminine, smart and tough, that will never be how she is. She will always be the odd one, the girl who knows nothing of fashion and is awkward at parties, not to mention completely disinterested in marriage.
While it’s not a young woman’s destiny in life to become wed nowadays, courtship and partnering and all that pertaining to romance and sex is still ingrained into society. Teenagers, even when derided for doing so, are nevertheless expected to both want and have relationships. Twenty somethings, now deemed old enough to date, are not just expected but encouraged to pair off. The idea of a teen or a twenty year old not dating? Not wanting to engage in natural mating rituals? Unthinkable. Horrifying. Scandalous. Even more scandalous to eschew marriage in the 1700s. Dear readers, let me introduce you to Felicity Montague; the best asexual MC I’ve ever met. (Also the only one, but that’s a whole other kettle of worms.)
Felicity is a girl of her own mind and her own ways, and even in a time she is far ahead of, she never lets the rest of the world stop her. I often hear about the merits of various Strong Female Characters, but I think for me Felicity was one of the greatest. She isn’t always right–what book character is?–but she learns from her mistakes, and when she is in the right she doesn’t take no for an answer. She isn’t afraid to blaze her own trail, even when her own friends and family don’t understand why she chooses the paths she does. She stays true to herself. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy may not be my favorite book of all time, but Felicity Montague comes very, very close to being my favorite character of all time. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️