Genre: Historical Age Range: YA Star Rating: 5 stars Series: standalone
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.
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ONE FOR ALL was such a fun read, full of swords and spying and female friendship and amazing chronic illness representation.
This is a historical novel that reimagines the Musketeers as teen girls stepping up when the official, male order becomes all about the glory and boasting, and thus not very useful. So in secret girls train and use all sorts of skills (fencing, sneaking, fluttering eyelashes) to investigate a threat against the king.
I appreciated that the book dug into the consequences of a coup against the king, that they weren’t doing it to protect a man generally discussed as useless, but to protect those who’d suffer most as a consequence – the poor, the overlooked, the ill – by being made scapegoats, or just casually killed for some blood to write a threatening message. The book doesn’t shy away from tackling the question of “why would you protect an absolute monarchy”, but instead shows the many shades of (dark) grey that are all the options open to them in the current situation.
Tania has a chronic illness – Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) – and I loved seeing a heroine with a chronic illness take the centre stage of a book, that she saved the day and was an amazing swordsperson. She struggles with it throughout the book, with some days being good and others not, but that’s what it’s like to have any sort of chronic illness. It was so nice to see her be bold and fierce and strong, but also be human and grapple with all those feelings you get when your body doesn’t do what you’d like it to.
While there are some feelings about boys, the focus of this book is not any sort of romance (yes!!! A YA that doesn’t force a major romantic subplot and instead focuses on the “oh heck” of the first time feeling anything for someone, and it’s still not the most important relationship.) This is a book about female friendship as the four girls bond and prove time and time again that they are there for Tania, that they will not let her down nor will they judge her for her illness.
I loved seeing that in a YA (and also the way the “romance” ended.) It’s so refreshing and it just felt so, so nice to see friendship given the priority and limelight. It showed just how important platonic love is, how it can be incredibly healing to have people who love you for you with no strings attached.
2 thoughts on “Book Review: ONE FOR ALL by Lillie Lainoff”
This sounds brilliant!
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I highly recommend it – the UK edition is out soon