Book Review: Orphan Monster Spy  

By Matt Killeen
Published by Usborne

Sarah, 15, is – or becomes – all three things in the title. It’s a 1940s story but Matt Killeen’s debut young adult novel breaks fresh ground.

We’re accustomed to seeing Jews portrayed as supine victims and of course the images move most of us deeply. Sarah is different. She’s Jewish and homeless having lost her surviving parent on page 1. So she runs, fights, schemes, outwits and eventually achieves something seriously useful to humanity.

Immensely courageous and very resourceful she infiltrates a school for the daughters, aka “monsters” of elite Nazis – using the acting ability she learned from her mother, her prowess on the piano, advanced athleticism and a few other talents.

Along the way she acquires a rather lovely new parent figure who also becomes her spymaster and she just about escapes from the hideous clutches of an extremely nasty paedophile so there are topical strands in here too.

This novel is a page turning thriller with lots of twists. And if it isn’t quite plausible then it doesn’t matter in the least. Sarah is a wonderful creation as is Captain Jeremy Lloyd. And some of the minor characters are pretty good too – the school nurse who does the decent thing and the female scientist who recognises almost unthinkable danger and deals with it, for example.

Review by Susan Elkin