The Nobleman's Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee (book review)
GENRE: YA Historical Fiction LENGTH: 571 pages
This is the final installment in the Montague Siblings trilogy which follows the adventures of three siblings in the 1700s. In this book Adrian Montague inherits his late mother's spyglass which supposedly belonged to the ghost ship, the Flying Dutchman. He believes it may hold the key to uncovering the truth about his mother's mysterious death.
CHARACTERS Adrian is the youngest of the Montague siblings. He grew up unaware of his elder siblings' existence but after meeting them craves their love and acceptance. He is a talented political writer whose own views oppose those of his father. He suffers from sometimes crippling anxiety (more on that in the next section). I definitely had a soft spot for and felt protective over Adrian. He's my favorite of the three siblings (though I adore them all).
Monty and Felicity, the elder siblings, have pretty prominent roles within this novel. The three siblings' relationships are really at the heart of this story. Monty and Adrian's is more complex than Adrian's with Felicity but that isn't to say that his and Felicity's was boring or unimportant. There were moments when I was frustrated or annoyed with one or more of the siblings for how they were treating each other. Overall, though, it was tender and heartwarming to see them bonding. It gave their family and the series that sense of completion and wholeness.
Other characters from previous novels make appearances here as well. These include Percy (Monty's love interest), George (formerly Georgie, their pirate friend), Sim (Felicity's pirate friend), and Johanna (Felicity's childhood friend). These cameos did read like they were inserted for the fans' enjoyment for the most part, but I didn't mind that so much because this is the conclusion.
One major disappointment was how Adrian's fiancée Louisa and Felicity don't have any real scenes together. They are both strong willed, intelligent feminists ahead of their time and I was looking forward to seeing them interact. There was so much wasted potential that made me question why Louisa was featured so prominently in the first chunk of the novel just to get left behind.
The novel is told from the first person perspective of Adrian. It is the longest book within the companion trilogy. This is largely due to the fact that we are inside the head of a character who suffers from anxiety. I am someone diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder who also suffers from panic attacks. I cannot stress enough how important accurate representation in media is, especially given the unfair and damaging stigma surrounding mental illness. Not only will young readers feel seen and understood, but allies may also be able to better empathize with what their loved ones are experiencing on a daily basis. I speak only from my own personal experiences, but I found Adrian's mental illness to be well written. In the novel we see his anxiety take the forms of thought spirals and catastrophic thinking. There is also a scene where he suffers from a panic attack. These are all things which anxiety disorder sufferers such as myself will be all too familiar with.
All the books in this companion trilogy have threads besides that characters that tie them together and give them a sense of cohesiveness. All three include themes of character discovery and growth, adventures featuring pirates, and a magical realism element. While you can read either of the first two books as standalone novels, I don't recommend doing that with this final book. I fear you'd be quite confused if you picked this book up without having read the first two.
FINAL THOUGHTS I have said it before, but this series is perfect for rainy days when you want an escape. You feel like you're going on an epic journey through a slightly magical version of history without having to leave the comfort of your bedroom. This installment was extra special to me because of the anxiety disorder representation but all of them are wonderful.
FINAL RATING: 4.5⭐️