Mata Hari: The Untold Story of the Original Femme Fatale

Berger: Dark Horse. Mar. 2019. 128p. ISBN 9781506705613. pap. $19.99ebk. ISBN 9781506705903. Rated: Teen+. historical fiction
For more than a century, her name has conjured images of exotic locales, early 20th-century European decadence, and high-stakes espionage and treachery, while the details behind her rise to infamy and tragic end have remained relatively unknown. Historical record shows that Margaretha Geertruida “Margreet” MacLeod, née Zelle (1876–1917), aka Mata Hari, was born to an affluent Dutch family and went on to become a wife, mother, lover, courtesan, and global superstar before being convicted of spying for Germany during World War I and executed by French authorities at just 41 years old. But her life was much richer and vastly more complex than broad strokes could possibly convey, so it’s a good thing we have this carefully researched, beautifully written new biography. Author Beeby (Sword of Sorrow) uses her subject’s incarceration and trial as a frame for a nonlinear exploration of her life, often skillfully flashing across decades from one panel to the next. Accomplished illustration and clever page design by artists Kristantina (The Logan Legacy) and Masioni (Unknown Soldier) keep the narrative flowing, resulting in a brilliant portrait of a woman driven by her hunger for independence and doomed by a contradictory nature that also made her a legend.
VERDICT A terrific and nuanced biography that proves its subject worthy of reevaluation and announces its author as a talent to watch. [See publisher spotlight, p. 42.]

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