Spy Ring, by Sarah Beth Durst


I love it when I gently learn bits of history I didn't know, especially while tagging along on a fun treasure hunt with companiable fictional characters, and that was just the case with Spy Ring, by Sarah Beth Durst (May 21, 2024, Clarion Books)!

Best friends Rachel and Joon, ready to spend the summer together practicing their espionage skills, are fed up with their parents keeping secrets from them--when eavesdropping, Rachel learns her mom and boyfriend are going to get married (which she fine with except for feeling left out), and Joon has just learned he's about to move.  But the eavesdropping also sets them off on a more exciting mission than they'd dreamed off--Rachel's soon to be stepdad is a descendent of a Revolutionary War spy, Anna "Nancy" Smith, and he's going to give Rachel a ring that once (according to family lore) belonged to her.

The ring has a clue to the start of a hunt set up by Nancy centuries ago, and maybe if Rachel and Joon can solve all the puzzles, they'll find actually proof that Nancy was indeed part of Long Island's Culper Spy Ring!

The kids have grown up vaguely aware of the Spy Ring, an important local driver of tourism and civic pride, but now they go into a deep dive of historical research and investigation of all the historic sites they'd never given much thought to. The clues are nicely cryptic, but believably solvable, and the adults encounter along the way are nicely varied in their responses, from skepticism to helpful eagerness.  The history of the Spy Ring, and the challenges of actually proving something in the past was true, is well woven into the modern-day hunt, and I really enjoyed learning about it.  I also appreciated that the story is about a woman whose historical importance many people were skeptical about, which is always a good chain of thought to put into young readers mind, in my opinion....

Give this one to any puzzle-loving, history loving, kids-riding-around-on-bikes loving, young readers you might have on hand, maybe paired with a trip to the actual Long Island town where the story is set, to go on a hunt yourselves for all the interesting historical places mentioned in the book! (I am rather tempted to do this myself....)


  1. This does sound good, thanks for the review

  2. Oh, I'm so glad this one is as good as it sounded!!!


  3. I thought this one would be one that you would like, somehow. It's that kids riding around town on bikes that did it for me!


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