Sophia Dee, the most unusual spy in Queen Elizabeth’s Maids of Honor, has run out of time for her psychic skills to fully manifest. A terrible prophecy haunts Windsor Castle, and the Queen demands answers before the next doomed soul dies.
Thrust into a dangerous competition to solve the deadly prediction, Sophia finds herself pitted against the most celebrated mystics of Europe: John Dee, her devious uncle and the Queen’s personal astrologer, and Nostradamus, the renowned prophet-seer of France.
In a court where whispers of witchcraft, poisonous plots, and grim assassins threaten her at every turn, Sophia needs answers fast. But does she dare trust Marcus Quinn, her uncle’s striking assistant? Or should she turn to the tortured dark angel of the spirit realm, who whispers to her only of danger and death?
As new dangers surface and the prophecy sweeps toward its final victim, the five Maids of Honor prepare to do battle. Only then will the girl who so often sees the future finally discover if she can save the Crown—and herself.
About the Author
Reading Group Guide
A Reading Group Guide to
A Maids of Honor novel: Maid of Wonder
By Jennifer McGowan
Unravel the mystery behind the Maids of Honor with the following questions:
1. Sophia’s story starts in a very unusual location. Where is she? Describe the setting in your own words and the individuals she meets there.
2. Sophia is well known to the servants and guards at Windsor Castle, including Master Seton. How does she help Master Seton early in the book, and how does he repay her kindness later in the story?
3. What prediction is made about Queen Elizabeth in Chapter Three? When you read it for the first time, what did you think it meant?
4. In Chapter Three, we also meet Sophia’s friends, the other Maids of Honor. How is Sophia similar to her fellow spies, and how is she different?
5. Drawing examples from the text, describe Sophia’s relationship with the Queen. Are she and the Queen on friendly terms? Does Sophia believe that the Queen will ultimately protect her?
6. Sophia and her fellow Maids of Honor take a lesson from the herb mistress of Windsor Castle. What are the two recipes discussed and what are the ingredients used?
7. Sophia has a privileged position in Queen Elizabeth’s court, but she must be constantly on her guard so as not to seem too “odd.” If Sophia were alive today, do you think she would be able to hide her psychic abilities more easily, or would it be even more difficult? Would you be her friend? Why or why not?
8. Describe Sophia’s relationship with her uncle, John Dee. Is John Dee a positive influence in her life, or a negative one? What examples can you find in the story to support your conclusion?
9. John Dee’s assistant, Marcus Quinn, flirts with Sophia from the moment they first meet. In your opinion, is Marcus trustworthy? What does he do and say to make you feel that way? Why do you think Sophia is drawn to him?
10. Which of the five Maids of Honor do you think has the most useful ability as a spy? Cite examples from the story to support your opinion. What special talent would you want to have if you were a spy?
11. One afternoon, Sophia realizes that Nostradamus, the great mystic of France, has arrived at Windsor Castle. What new details about the castle tip her off that Nostradamus has arrived? How does she react to the news?
12. Sophia is forced into a competition with John Dee and Nostradamus to solve the prediction about a death in Windsor Castle. Each of the three competitors uses a different process to solve the mystery. Describe each process. Which one do you think is the most successful in reaching a complete and accurate answer?
13. Not everyone at Windsor Castle is comfortable with the idea of Sophia connecting with the spirit world. Who specifically is opposed to Sophia using any sort of magic, and what do they do to attempt to make her “prove” that she is not a witch?
14. Sir Francis Walsingham, one of the Queen’s advisors, is forced to make a life-or-death decision in this story. What choice does he make, and why does he feel like it was the right decision? Do you agree with his reasoning? Why or why not?
15. After the mystery of the prediction is solved, the Queen believes she is safe. But who else threatens the Queen’s life late in the book, and why? How does Sophia help keep the Queen safe?
16. At the book’s conclusion, Sophia is determined to find answers about the connection between the dark angel and Marcus. Write a brief paragraph about what you think should happen next in Sophia’s story. What would she discover?
This guide has been provided by the author for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I've really enjoyed this series to date. So their was no doubt that I would read this book when it became available. I admit that Sophia is not my favorite maiden, but I was intrigued to learn her story. Sophia's gift is interesting to me. I wonder how it would be viewed in today's world that she conversed with angels? It was definitely hearsay in that time. I wonder if that fear was partially why she seemed to have so little control and understanding of it. Until it came down to an ultimatum, it didn't even seem like she was trying to make complete use of it. I did find her voice annoying at times. You can tell she is a little bit more sheltered and naive compared to the rest of the maids. She doesn't seem to have any responsibility like the others. While her gift is no easy, she needed to be pushed to do it. I think Elizabeth did it in her typical fashion. She wanted to make a spectacle of it for her own amusement. I loved the inclusion on Nostradamus, although I admit that I don't know much about him besides his name. I was on the fence when it came to Marcus Quinn. I felt it was kind of creepy how he could see Sophia in her dreams and seemed to be there every time she turned around. But, he also seemed very invested in her well being. Overall, an adequate addition to the series. You can't really have it without a story about Sophia, so I'm happy to have it. I sincerely hope this series continues.
I have been loving this Elizabethan Romance series for its characters, humor, and history. Each book adds another dimension to the historical period in European power struggles among countries and Church. Each book also adds to the understanding of the individual Maid characters. (Maid of Honors are spies who serve Queen Elizabeth.) Sophia's story in MAID OF WONDER was different than the previous Maid of Honor stories. It lacked the humor and took a dark ominous tone. But in many ways the author, Jennifer McGowan, showed brilliance in this paranormal, which could be classified as magic realism, as she displayed a deeper range of her abilities as an author. I was fascinated by the author's interpretation of what it might have been like for psychics, even the notorious French Nostradamus, to conjure up, or enter, the spirit world for their visions and predictions. If there was any doubt, MAID OF WONDER proved that this series, though the books are fast easy reads, shouldn't be chalked off as just Romance novels. The history is deeply researched and the books well-written. I look forward to the next in the series. (I'm especially curious about Jane's story, as it undoubtedly will be a tragic tale.) I bought all of the series at Barnes & Noble.