What impresses me the most about Eye Spy is how Lackey manages to balance a girl learning about her magic, with a carefully constructed and gripping plot.
Mags, Herald Spy of Valdemar, and his wife, Amily, the King’s Own Herald, are happily married with three kids. Their daughter, Abidela, dreams of building upon her parents’ legacy by joining the Artificers, hoping to offset her seeming lack of a Gift.
But when Abi senses the imminent collapse of a bridge only moments before it happens, she saves countless lives, including that of her best friend, Princess Katiana. The experience, though harrowing, uncovers her unique Gift—an ability to sense the physical strains in objects.
Intrigued by the potential of her Gift, the Artificers seek to claim her as their own—but so do the Healers. Through training with both of them, Abi discovers unique facets of her Gift, including a synesthetic connection to objects that allows her to “see” as well as feel the strains.
Her Gift may also grant her a distinct advantage as a spy—there won’t be a building in the entire kingdom of Valdemar with a secret room that she doesn’t know about. With the help of her mentors, she must hone her gift to uncover the hidden secrets in the depths of Valdemar.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Abi has an unique set of magical abilities, but even more than that, she’s grown up in an unique family full of characters who are courageous, smart, and driven to help their society. If you ever grew up reading a lot of Tamora Pierce, Abi reminds me in some ways of Alanna. She’s strong, determined, and clever – not afraid to make enemies, and powerful ones, for all the right reasons.
Abi has a wonderful support system of characters around her who you would be familiar with if you’ve read a lot of Lackey’s other works – like The Hills Have Spies. It’s not required at all, it’s just like looking at your favorite art piece again and again. There were two things that really set Eye Spy apart for me: Abi’s sexuality and her overarching plot. Abi is aro (it’s not stated like that on page, but Abi talks about never having any romantic feelings for anyone). Based on her conversation, Abi also seems ace. Additionally, Abi’s plight is familiar if you’ve seen what happens to women who make powerful enemies by men who want to cross them or their boundaries.
The things our enemies will do when they feel inferior and have means. And something that I thought about when reading Eye Spy would be how different Abi’s story would have been if she was not surrounded by this incredibly supportive, and powerful in their own ways, group of characters. And what’s great about Eye Spy is how it delivers on multiple levels. It talks about when secrets want to be drowned, buried, and what will happen when we try to uncover the truth.