Y. S. Lee

Y. S. Lee writes vivid historical fiction for young adult readers. Her mystery series, The Agency, is about a women’s detective bureau in Victorian London and features a feisty, intelligent, thief-turned-spy for its heroine. Ying earned a PhD in Victorian literature and culture from Queen’s University. She grew up in Singapore, Vancouver, and Toronto, and moved to Kingston in 1998.

Ying is an experienced public speaker with a lively presence. Her special interests are social history, Victorian technology and culture, and the changing lives of women in previous eras.

Selected Books

The Agency:  Rivals in the City (Candlewick Press, 2015)Rivals in the City - book cover

The Agency: A Spy in the House (Candlewick Press, 2010)

  • Winner of the inaugural (2011) John Spray Mystery Award
  • Shortlisted for the Ontario Library Association’s 2011 Red Maple Award
  • Shortlisted for a 2011 Agatha Award for Best Children’s/Young Adult Novel

Praise for A Spy in the House:

“Debut author Y.S. Lee keeps the story wound tight, lacing it with gingery humor… Sparkling repartee fuels the story, but it’s not so snappy as to undercut Mary’s vulnerability—she’s a saucy, smart heroine it will be a pleasure to meet again.” Kirkus Reviews

“A fine whodunit, with clues carefully rationed out as the story evolves, it also holds some great surprises likely to catch even the sharpest readers off guard… A Spy in the House is entirely true to the genre, full of thrills and danger and wonderfully sharp writing.” BookPage

The Agency: The Body at the Tower (Candlewick Press, 2010)

A Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children’s Book of the Month

Praise for The Body at the Tower:

Mary grows and struggles, first to come to terms with her past and secondly with her growing feelings for James. The two have a fiery relationship that threatens to boil over at any moment as they move from sparring to kissing, sometimes in the span of a page… readers also get an up-close glimpse into the darker side of Victorian London… Mary proves that she is definitely a detective to keep an eye on.” School Library Journal

an outstanding portrayal of Victorian London; in its depiction of everyday life it shows the reader poverty and its traps and the position of women in the Victorian age. It’s also an exciting mystery and romance. Highly recommended.” WriteAway

“With its Victorian London setting, smart heroine, and electrifying plot, this novel has much to offer to even the most discerning of readers… The book holds its own as the second in a trilogy, but the clever writing will make it exceedingly difficult to avoid picking up the first installment and anticipating the next release.” Yana V. Rodgers, Rutgers University