A Spy in the House

The Agency 1
By: Y. S. Lee
Narrated by: Justine Eyre
Series: The Agency, Book 1
Length: 7 hrs and 29 mins
4.2 out of 5 stars (168 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In Victorian England, orphan Mary Quinn lives on the edge. Sentenced as a thief at the age of 12, she’s rescued from the gallows by a woman posing as a prison warden. In her new home, Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls, Mary acquires a singular education, fine manners, and a surprising opportunity.

The school is a cover for the Agency — an elite, top secret corps of female investigators with a reputation for results — and at 17, Mary’s about to join their ranks. With London all but paralyzed by a noxious heat wave, Mary must work fast in the guise of lady’s companion to infiltrate a rich merchant’s home with hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the Thorold household is full of dangerous secrets, and people are not what they seem - least of all Mary.

©2010 Y.S. Lee (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

Featured Article: Best Young Adult Audiobook Series to Listen to Right Now


Is there any better feeling in the world than discovering a new young adult book series to devour? Whether you're into epic fantasy, the supernatural, rom-coms, or a great mystery, there is definitely a YA book series out there for you. And in audio, there’s the added benefit of talented narrators bringing these stories to life in exciting ways. We've compiled 20 of the best completed and ongoing YA audiobook series out there and broken them down by genre.

What listeners say about A Spy in the House

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

yes, it's YA-but credible for genre for any age

Despite a bit of far-fetchedness in the plot wind-up, this holds its own against most in the light subgenre, "Victorian-woman-sleuth, no bodice ripping nor rake-to-be-reformed." A narrator with a more credible(?) Brit accent would have made it a better listen. I give it an extra star for being rated G (even many adults appreciate that!) and capturing the traffic and sewage flow problems of Victorian London.

I think it would be a fun listen to share with a daughter or neice (or mother or aunt...) and its content doesn't exclude male listeners either.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Enchanting mystery/spy novel

I really enjoyed this one. This is the first in the Mary Quinn series, and I'm sure it won't be my last. Y.S. Lee does a really good job balancing mystery and suspense with action. I listened to this one almost nonstop because I didn't want to leave it.

Justine Eyre's voice couldn't have been a better choice for this audiobook. She has a smooth voice that handles the voices of other characters well without losing the smooth quality that makes you want to get a cup of tea, sit down in your favorite chair, and relax while you listen. Just don't think you can go to sleep to this book because there's too much excitement going on at any given moment.

There are a few places (I remember three) where inappropriate language was used. I don't understand why that was considered necessary by the author, but there isn't much of it, so it didn't ruin the book for me.

Overall, if you enjoy period novels, mysteries, suspense, or action/adventure novels, you'll like this one. I'm planning on acquiring the next book in this series, myself.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great for adults, too!

This is one of the best listens I've ever downloaded from Audible. Although technically a young adult book, I was immediately hooked on it, and luckily there is an equally fantastic sequel! The book has a funny and feisty heroine, a lot of great historical background, an intricate mystery plot that will keep you guessing, and a splash of delightful romance. The narrator is fabulous as well. You can't go wrong!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Decent, but not especially engaging

This is a young-adult mystery with a splash of romance, set in 19th-century London. (You should definitely consider it YA, not a "kid's book" -- tons of references to prostitution, opium, extramarital affairs, etc.) It's perfectly decent listening, but I didn't find myself especially wrapped up in either the characters or the story, and the period details/language weren't very persuasive. The reader, too, was simply fine. Not something that lingers in your mind.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A Wonderful Story at an affordable price!

What made the experience of listening to A Spy in the House the most enjoyable?

This story was very well written. Lee was able to pull the listener into 19th century London effortlessly, making the setting an intricate, seamless part of the plot. Mary, the main character was likable and there's a wide variety of side characters who kept me entertained. I immediately bought book 2 in the series after finishing this one.

What did you like best about this story?

The heroine was resilient and strong. A wonderful girl who you just cared about. The mystery of it all kept me thinking about the book even when I wasn't listening.

Any additional comments?

I would strongly recommend this book for ages 13+. It does deal with serious issues, like the state of London for the poor in this time period. It dealt with hunger and death without being too overwhelming, but parents may want to listen before their children.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Love this series

I like to think that if I lived in this time period I would be just like this girl. Tough, brave and funny. I really loved the relationship between the characters.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • MB
  • 02-09-11

Lots of Fun

A great listen. Perfect length. Tricky enough to remain unpredictable. Looking forward to reading number 2 !

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Just okay

Great narrator. A true picture of the time and place. My complaint is the characters were kind of flat. I did stick with it until the end but it was not the kind of book but I concentrate on. Good to listen to while you do other things.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I didn't expect to love this as much as I do

I picked this up on recommendation in a facebook group for The Parasol Protectorate series and I am SO glad I did. While it's not like the PP stories, Y.S. Lee has created wonderfully rich and lovable characters in a world that feels as real as can be. There are books that can take a bit to pull me in, but not this one. I was instantly drawn in and fell in love with Mary at the start. I was never let down. She is imperfect, as all actual humans are. She makes mistakes and pays for them. The story is interesting and I really appreciate the insight into the life Chinese immigrants in Victorian England. Justine Eyre is an extremely talented narrator and I will certainly look for other books she's read.