Tag Archives: london

The Devious Dr. Jekyll by Viola Carr

The Devious Dr. Jekyll is the second book in Viola Carr’s Electric Empire series. I initially picked up the first book in this series, The Diabolical Miss Hyde, because I saw the cover in a bookstore and it looked really cool. The cover for this installment was equally awesome. As the title of the books suggest, they are a play on the story of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Main character Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of Henry Jekyll, and because Dr. Jekyll was using his infamous elixir when Eliza was, *ahem* conceived, Eliza has what you could call a split personality. Her “other half” so to speak is Lizzie Hyde.

**This review will contain some mild spoilers for the The Diabolical Miss Hyde.**

devious dr jekyll coverEliza is a well-respected female doctor who often helps the police solve their cases and who dates the dashingly handsome Captain Lafayette. Captain Lafayette works for the Royal Society, a group dedicated to wiping out everything even remotely supernatural in England. This should include Eliza, which makes their relationship a bit tricky – until Lizzie discovered Captain Lafayette has his own secret – he’s a werewolf. Eliza and Lafayette mutually decide to keep each other’s secrets, but their relationship remains complicated. Lizzie meanwhile is not just another personality. When Eliza drinks her elixir – or Lizzie breaks out on her own – her whole body changes, down to her hair color. She looks completely different, wears different sized dresses, and speaks with a different accent. Adding complication to Eliza’s relationship with Captain Lafayette is the small matter of Lizzie sleeping with him, and continuing to harbor feelings for him after he tells her he loves Eliza only and can’t be with her anymore. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a love triangle or not, haha.

These books are interesting reads for me, because most of the books I really like I enjoy because I can become emotionally invested in the characters. I don’t particularly like Eliza Jekyll or Lizzie Hyde. Eliza is too proper, and she makes some outrageously stupid decisions for a person smart enough to become a doctor. Lizzie is more crude than I can handle. The plot is good though. In this novel, Eliza and Captain Lafayette are searching for a murderer who is killing his victims using a horrifying ritual. I like steampunk novels, and I think Eliza’s talking mechanical dog is adorable and a nice touch by the author. So far, the books are fine.

Now here’s the part that really makes me want to read these novels: Viola Carr’s imagery is SPECTACULAR. I should have made notes of some specific examples, but of course I didn’t think of that at the time, and now the book is back at the library. The one moment I remember because it was so brilliant was Carr’s description of the sunlight as “gritty.” There was much more to the description of the scene than just this one word, but this stuck with me, because while it is not a word you generally associate with the sun, I understood exactly what she meant. Every single one of her descriptions is this perfect. It really takes her story writing to the next level, and it inspires me to make my own writing even better.

Overall, I give this book 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it to fans of steampunk, the supernatural, and really brilliant imagery. The third book in the series, The Dastardly Miss Lizzie, was just published in April and I looking forward to reading it.

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey

Devil you know coverFelix Castor–known as Fix by the people who can stand him–has the unusual ability to exorcise ghosts. But ever since the disaster that left his friend Rafi possessed by the demon Asmodeus, he hasn’t been practicing. In fact, despite the urging of his friend and landlady Pen, Fix swears he has given up exorcising ghosts for good. Then, on one of his rare visits to his office, he gets a call with a job offer. On the heels of this offer is a warning from Asmodeus that taking this job will get him killed. This spikes Fix’s curiosity in spite of himself, and he meets with Peele, the h

ead of the archive that claims to need the exorcism. Fix’s limited contact with the ghost when he visits the archive makes him hedge his bets and take the job, which thrusts him back into the world of exorcising ghosts with much more enthusiasm then he is ready for.

I enjoyed this novel much more than I thought I would. Felix Castor was a great character, and I really liked solving the mystery of the archive ghost along with him. This novel actually read much more like a murder mystery novel to me, with just a few paranormal elements thrown in, which I thought was great. I read plenty of urban fantasy novels that are all about the paranormal and action packed scenes, with some plot/mystery thrown in almost as an afterthought. This book was very different, with the mystery being more important that the ghosts or other paranormal creatures. There almost wasn’t enough world building, or enough explanation about the ghosts, weres and zombies. But I didn’t mind, I just wanted to know who the archive ghost was and how she came to be.


Felix Castor, exorcist turned children’s magician turned unwilling exorcist was a great leading character. He made smart decisions, took actions when he needed to even if didn’t want to, and grew up and learned about himself as the novel went along. I liked him very much. This was definitely one of those stories where I wanted to live in the world and be friends with the main characters: Felix, his landlady and best friend Pen, and even some of the people Felix met at the archive, like Cheryl. Then there was the interesting addition of the succubus Juliet. She’s going to be back in the next books, and I really want to know what happens with her. I’m very excited to read the next Felix Castor novel. It’s nice to read a book series where I can go get the next book right away, and don’t have to wait for it to be published for a change.

Happy reading,

-Branwen

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Ruby Red is a young adult novel set–mostly–in present day London. It is the first book in a trilogy about a time-traveling teen named Gwen.

Gwen lives in an old Victorian mansion with the Lady Arista, her Aunt Glenda and cousin Charlotte, her “crazy” great-aunt Maddy, her mother and her two younger siblings. You would think the ability to see ghosts would make Gwen’s life pretty exciting, but it is Charlotte who is the special one. Charlotte has been training her entire life: learning to dance, play violin, horseback ride, everything imaginable, because Charlotte has the gene that will allow her to travel through time. At least that’s what everyone thinks, until Gwen takes a trip to the corner store and ends up in the 1920’s.

Gwen takes two more frightening and accidental trips to the past before she admits to her mother that she has time traveled. Chaos ensues. Everyone is furious with Gwen’s mother, who lied about Gwen’s birthdate in a misguided attempt to protect her from having to give up her life training to travel through time. Gwen is rushed to the Temple, where she discovers there is much more to time-traveling then she thought, not to mention the large secret society that goes along with it. The only problem is no one in the secret society seems to like Gwen very much, nor will anyone answer any of her questions.

Gwen is paired with another time-traveling teen named Gideon. Gideon had be training for time-traveling with Charlotte, and seems to have a more-than-friendly relationship with her. Like the rest of the secret society members, Gideon is not happy that his beautiful, smart, talented and funny partner is leaving, and he is being stuck with a younger, less, well, everything, and completely untrained partner. Gwen doesn’t particularly like Gideon either, but they are stuck and must learn to work together.

Ruby Red is exciting, fast-paced, and mysterious. It does not feature the usual teen-love-triangle which is refreshing. Gwen is a strong-willed young lady who wants to be in control of her own destiny, despite what a plethora of adults tell her. She knows everyone is keeping secrets from her, even her mother, and she wants to find out the truth on her own. The relationship between Gwen and Gideon is interesting. Naturally the reader expects them to fall madly in love with each other, but Gwen does not seem like the kind of girl to be interested in a girly, flirty relationship.

I enjoyed Ruby Red a lot. It was fast-paced, and kept surprising me. It left the reader with more questions than answers, but that is typical for the first book in a trilogy. For example, “crazy” aunt Maddy has visions that have to do with Gwen and rubies and large clocks. These visions are only given passing mention, but Gwen seems to think they are important. Additionally, who are the two mysterious people who have just time traveled to the 20’s in the prologue? Who are these men in the secret society, and what are they all hiding? And what is going to happen between Gwen and Gideon? Hopefully these questions will be answered in the second book!

Happy reading!

-Branwen