Reader Reviewed The Last Duchess by Laura Powell

The Last Duchess

Written by Laura Powell
Illustrated by Sarah Gibb
Part of the A Silver Service Mystery Series

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

In a nutshell: upstairs downstairs mystery with added magic

Pattern, lady’s maid and the central character in this excellent new series, is a heroine in the Jane Eyre mould: quiet, invisible to the outside world, but brave, fierce, clever. She needs all those qualities too to protect her mistress, the young Duchess of Elffinberg; the duchess is threatened not just by a dragon outside the castle, but by some of those on the inside, who she should really be able to trust. The two girls become friends, and the stage is set for a terrific story of courage, friendship, courtly intrigue and magic.

Detective series starring young women are very much in fashion and this will appeal to fans of Robin Stevens’s Murder Most Unladylike books, but readers should also look out Stephanie Burgis’s The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, another spritely and inventive story of magic and intrigue. ~ Andrea Reece

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading4kids expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. Click here to read the full reviews.

  • Emma Corden, age 11 - 'Honestly, The Last Duchess is the best book that I have read in quite a while I absolutely loved it!'
  • Sue Wilsher, Teacher - 'An exciting detective story where legend mingles with evil deeds and all is solved by an orphaned lady's maid.'    
  • Holly Wilkins, age 13 - 'This is a great book - full of mystery, mischief and crime.'
  • Jenna Welch, age 12 - 'I especially enjoyed the bits of welsh in it because I speak welsh and the combination of the two languages and cultures worked really well...I loved this book and have already started to read it again.'
  • Kitty Sidaway, age 9 - 'The Last Duchess is a thrilling tale jam packed with excitement, adventure and mysteries...'
  • Sidney Greenslade, age 13 - 'The Last Duchess is a thrilling and suspenseful read which tells the tale of Pattern, a 13 year old servant who realises that being employed to be invisible is far more deadly than it seems...'
  • Olivia Shaw, age 11 - 'The Last Duchess is an unlikely combination of darning stockings, serving a suspicious Duchess, and a house sized Dragon! I would recommend it to readers aged 11 and up.'
  • Amina, age 10 - 'This book has a little twist to it but I'll let you find out what that twist was. It was a cross between a fiction book and halfway to real life but not quite there yet. I loved it, it was magic.'
  • Amelie Weeks - 'This is a gripping tale of a mystery, secrets and friendship.'
  • Niamh Howson, age 11 - Red Maid's Junior School - 'I found the book endlessly gripping once I got into it. Sometimes I couldn’t put it down. This book is very mysterious and intense.'
  • Erica Motoc, age 11 - 'Laura Powell is a phenomenal author and I would recommend it to anyone who adores a brilliant read.'


The Last Duchess by Laura Powell

Pattern is only thirteen, but is already rising through the ranks at Mrs Minchin's Academy of Domestic Servitude and seems destined for a life below stairs. But fate intervenes when she is packed off to the small and secretive Duchy of Elffinberg, to serve as lady's maid to the lately orphaned Grand Duchess. Pattern's young new mistress is excitable and paranoid, yet despite their differences the two girls forge an unlikely friendship that quickly turns into a battle for survival. For picture-perfect Elffinberg hides an extremely dark and deadly secret ...

Armed only with her trusty sewing basket, a bottle of smelling salts and J. Bulcock's inestimable guide, The Duties of a Lady's Maid, Pattern will need all her wits and resourcefulness when dealing with above-stairs conspiracies and below-stairs intrigue. Darning stockings has never been so dangerous.


A delightful, heart-warming story. * School Librarian * [An] excellent new series . . . a terrific story of courage, friendship, courtly intrigue and magic. * * The background to this excellent story, the first in a series, is well-constructed and colourful . . . The tension continues right until the final pages, ably assisted by Sarah Gibb's delightful illustrations, and readers will look forward eagerly to Pattern's further adventures. * The Book Bag * Written with a light, deft touch, there is mystery, humour, loyalty and friendship well balanced throughout the book. A very good read. * Parents in Touch * With its atmospheric fairy tale backdrop, cast of amazing characters, lashings of dark humour and devilish twist in the tail, The Last Duchess is an entertaining blend of real life and fantasy. There are warm friendships to enjoy, an intriguing mystery to solve and plenty of adventures, dramas and danger to set the pulse racing. * Lancashire Evening Post * Plenty of plot twists and intrigue in [this] cracking adventure from below stairs. * Sunday Express S Magazine * A mystery with magic and friendship at its heart and a sharp dagger in its tail. * Booktrust * An atmospheric, intriguing mystery. * Guardian *

About the Author

Laura Powell

Laura Powell, who may or may not be a direct descendant of King Arthur, was born in London, but grew up in the shadow of Carreg Cennen Castle in Wales. Much of her childhood was either spent with her nose firmly in a book, or plotting to escape her boarding school, which she hated. Having studied Classics at university, she now spends her time working for the English National Ballet and writing. She lives in Camberwell with her husband and young son.

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Book Info


304 pages


Laura Powell
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Author's Website



Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan

Publication date

15th June 2017




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