A great deal is happening in London and the country this season.
For starters, there’s the witch who tried to poison Kate at the Royal College of Wizards. There’s also the man who seems to be spying on Cecelia. (Though he’s not doing a very good job of it–so just what are his intentions?) And then there’s Oliver. Ever since he was turned into a tree, he hasn’t bothered to tell anyone where he is.
Clearly, magic is a deadly and dangerous business. And the girls might be in fear for their lives . . . if only they weren’t having so much fun!
When I did my Stacking the Shelves post the other day, I mentioned this book was an author recommendation but I wasn’t quite sure who recommended it. Pages in, I knew: Gail Carriger. To be sure, some quick Google-Fu tells me that this indeed one of her favorite books and that it was an influence of hers when she wrote Soulless all these years ago. I bring this up because in a way this book can be considered Carriger light – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you like the idea of her books but find her a bit much to handle, this Regency romance/fantasy might well more be your speed. It’s just something to keep in mind.
The big items of note here is that this book is a true epistolary format, that is to say the entire book is told through Cecelia (Cecy) and Kate’s letters back and forth between London and the countryside.
I kind of wish it hadn’t been.
There’s a lot to like her: Cecelia and Kate are likable, as are the men and the magic is subtle but used to good effect in an appropriately dastardly scheme. However, the choice of the letters ruins any momentum the plot has. It takes almost half the book to really pick up. I was getting close to giving up on it and less patient readers may well do so. The story was enjoyable enough that I wish it could have been told conventionally, because I think it would have been stronger for it.
On a side note: those who have read Regency romances may have issues with things like the girls easily flitting into the highest levels of the Ton (sorry, but that Marquis really wouldn’t have picked the untitled Kate without causing a great deal more scandal) and the guys aren’t nearly rakish enough for my taste. For all that there are whispers, there is never an ounce of behavior that seem to justify it. It could very well be because of the formatting, which again goes back to that whole “this may have been better told as a traditional story” bit.
This is definitely one of those reviews where I’m stretching to find something to write. It’s ultimately just kind of there. Although I do think Carriger can take it a bit far, I do think she is better at. If you like the idea of non-linear storytelling, then check out the forth-coming Illuminae instead as that does this style right. I don’t even know I can recommend it for fans of Regency Romance as it doesn’t quite work there either. I’m just not sure who to recommend it for. And because of that, I can only come to one conclusion:
Verdict: Skip It