Released: February 1st 2011
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
One boy, one girl, one plot to be foiled! Hamish the gorgeous man (and part time ferret) has a new job with the Duke as a spy in his Autumn Palace. So Ondine goes with him. She imagines a hugely romantic escapade together that involves lots of kissing. What she hadn't imagined was having to do endless laundry, go to school and keep Hamish the man a secret. All the while trying to find out who is plotting to kill the Duke. And if that weren't bad enough, it seems that Hamish is more interested in getting the Duke's attention than hers. Plus he's always in ferret form. Things can't go on like this! Can Ondine foil the would-be assassin, save the Duke and get her man back in gorgeous human form? It's going to take a little bit of magic, a lot of stolen kisses and some ferreting around... (from Goodreads)
The Autumn Palace was a fabulous sequel to The Summer of Shambles – in fact, I think I liked it even more! Ondine had gone with Shambles/Hamish to work for the Duke, but things did not turn out the way she wanted at all. Instead of spending lots of time with her boyfriend, she was made to do laundry, attend lessons at school and help the very odd Infanta, while Shambles was off trying to find out who wanted to kill the Duke!
The narrative in Ondine was just amazing. So funny, sometimes even a little satirical, with the great sarcastic footnotes and all-round silliness that I couldn’t help but find hilarious (I mean, raining fish? I cracked up :P). And the Infanta, oh dear! At first I felt immensely sorry for Ondine, having to serve this clearly crazy lady and carry out all her bizarre requests. I mean, the woman fed her dog soup from a spoon...and put the spoon back in the soup pot. It was so disgusting yet I couldn’t help laughing at how insane the Infanta seemed to be! But as the book went on, she actually started to grow on me, and I appreciated her quirkiness (though the way she fed her dog still creeped me out). I could understand why she resented Vincent (Vincent was awful anyway) – it seemed so unfair that he would be the next Duke just because he was male, and now she was stuck as the Infanta and no longer had the chance to be Duchess. I liked how Ondine seemed to have an effect on her, and it was great to read about the two together!
Aunt Col, the witch responsible for turning Hamish into Shambles the ferret, played a bigger role in this one, and I have to say, I really liked her. She was just cool and a powerful witch, and knew how to get what she wanted. She and Shambles were the ones appointed the task of finding the person trying to kill off the Duke. I have to say, I did guess quite early on who the culprit was, but I just loved the way the mystery unravelled in the book and how Aunt Col, Shambles and Ondine put all the pieces together – the situations they got themselves into sometimes...I’m grinning just remembering them!
I did feel for Ondine and Hamish in this one, because they didn’t have as much time to be together as they wanted. But their romance was really sweet and I’m glad everything worked out in the end! Ondine’s time at school, though, was pretty awful. Ondine was clearly as smart girl, but because of her lack of formal education, she wasn’t doing so well in class, and it was really getting her down. I felt bad that she had to resort to the measures she did, and I think maybe she should have thought things through a bit more! But things were working against her anyway, so I can understand how she felt.
I did miss Ondine’s mother and father in this book (though the phone calls home were great) but I really enjoyed it overall. Even though this book was slightly longer than the first, I flew through it, and was sad when it was all over. I’m really hoping there’ll be another book in the series, because I’d love to see more of Ondine and Hamish! I’m also curious about Ondine’s “powers” – I know she claimed not to be psychic, but I can’t help thinking that maybe there was something really there? She was related to Aunt Col, after all!
Overall, The Autumn Palace was a great addition to the Ondine series and I loved all magic and mystery and romance! Recommended.
(Quick note just to say that I love this cover! I like the first Ondine cover too, but this one is really gorgeous, and so pretty in real life too).