Cover: love it although Eliza never dresses like that in the book.
Evil is most assuredly afoot - and Britain's fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade . . . and a librarian.
These are dark days indeed in Victoria's England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences - the Crown's clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling - will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest . . . and she's prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the perilous fray.
For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun - he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices - must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot . . . or see England fall to the Phoenix!
The book starts with a great action scene, where agent Eliza Braun rescues the abducted Archivist Wellington Books, esquire and blows up the whole place while they make their escape. Her boss is not so happy with her performance though, as their agency, the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, is supposed to be secret. Although she is a very good field agent, he puts her to work in the archives, and Wellington Books is supposed to teach her some patience and why the archive is so important.
Eliza hates her new position, until she finds out about the cold cases room, and stumbles upon the files her former partner was working on before he was committed to Bedlam. She still misses Harry.
Eliza is from New Zealand and she really doesn’t like the stuffy English Society and its “toffs”. Wellington Books is from one of those families but the has shaken of his father’s influence and is happy in his chosen career. He loves his work and the mechanical devices he has invented. His job and the archives are more important than Eliza will ever understand.
But Eliza is not the backwater miss Books takes her for, her apartment is very luxurious and elegant, and so can she be if she wants to. But Eliza prefers being a field agent, she loves guns and is never without her knives or some other devices.
They are up against the Phoenix Society, a secret society that has been around for thousands of years and now has surfaced again. And their plans are hideous and inhuman. Eliza and Books/Welly also have to keep their investigation a secret from their boss, Dr Sound, as this was certainly not what he had in mind for them.
Another agent is being blackmailed in betraying the Agency, by someone from the highest part of Society who wants to bring the Ministry down … And Dr. Sound might have some secret plans of himself ..
I really enjoyed this story, and how two such different people got about investigating this strange and macabre case, and how they learned to work together. And then there is the mutual attraction, I wonder if they will let it play out in the next book. Books is such a real oldfashioned gentleman. I do look forward to finding out more about their personal backgrounds.
I liked the street urchins that Eliza uses as her eyes and ears in the street, and how she tries to take care of them in her own way.
The steampunk parts are very well done, and very intriguing. I enjoyed reading about all the gadgets and machinery and other items and certainly want to know more.
The mystery is very intriguing and the Phoenix Society is totally horrifying. But there are more such secret groups and their plans will be even more evil …
The story is very well written and the use of language is sometimes very descriptive and elegant and I loved it.
I will buy the next books in this series, that is for sure.
© 2014 Reviews by Aurian