Publication Date: June 14, 2022
**This Review can also be found on my tumblr book review and fandom blog (also called Whimsical Dragonette) here.
Two teen vigilantes set off on an action-packed investigation to expose corruption and deliver justice in Valiant Ladies, Melissa Grey’s YA historical fiction novel inspired by real seventeenth century Latinx teenagers known as the Valiant Ladies of Potosí.
By day Eustaquia “Kiki” de Sonza and Ana Lezama de Urinza are proper young seventeeth century ladies. But when night falls, they trade in their silks and lace for swords and muskets, venturing out into the vibrant, bustling, crime-ridden streets of Potosí, in the Spanish Empire’s Viceroyalty of Peru. They pass their time fighting, gambling, and falling desperately in love with one another.
Then, on the night Kiki’s engagement to the Viceroy’s son is announced, her older brother―heir to her family’s fortune―is murdered. The girls immediately embark on a whirlwind investigation that takes them from the lowliest brothels of Potosí to the highest echelons of the Spanish aristocracy.
I LOVED this book so much. I have had high hopes for it ever since I first heard it announced — seventeenth century teenage Latinx vigilante sword lesbians? sold! — and it vastly exceeded my expectations.
Kiki and Ana were such great characters, and I loved their dynamic and their escapades. It was clear from the first pages that they meant everything to each other and loved each other very much. I loved their bond and the way their relationship and friendship strengthened as the events of the story unfolded. I also really appreciated their love of weaponry. The other characters were also very well-fleshed out and I came to feel strongly about all of them.
The villains were villainous (but not always obvious, which was nice). It was very satisfying to see Kiki and Ana stand up to them, especially when others didn’t always do so — for social or political or monetary reasons.
It was also really refreshing to see sex workers treated as regular people who are just as worthy of being rescued as anyone else? There was never any judgement or negativity toward them, which I loved.
The setting felt very real and… immersive, I guess? Like I totally believed I was there in 17th century Peru while reading.
Most of all, I had the best time while reading this. It was so fun and adventurous and it was like I was there alongside Kiki and Ana as the events of the plot unfolded. They were totally kick-ass and there was never any doubt in their minds about that fact. I will definitely be reading this one again.
*Thanks to NetGalley and Recorded Books for providing an audio arc for review.