Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: April 26th, 2011
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!
Phoenix Rising is the first in what I hope will be a long-lived Steampunk series by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. They make such a wonderful writing duo and I could certainly see Pip’s touch in this book (she also writes great fantasy as Philippa Ballantine), and although I don’t have experience (yet) with Tee’s previous work, I have no doubt he’s just as talented!
The novel opens with the lovely Eliza Braun saving the life of archivist Wellington Books in the icy wastelands of Antarctica, where he has been kidnapped by an unknown group. The witty banter between the stubborn and driven Eliza, and the studious Books starts early, and keeps going strong throughout the story. Bodies are turning up in London, ravaged in the most terrible of ways, an agent has gone mad working on a previous case, and Eliza’s rashness in the field has landed her in the archives of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurances, as Books’ assistant, much to his dismay. What follows is a rollicking story full of carriage chases, shootouts, wondrous steam gadgetry, and intriguing mystery! I loved the interplay between Welly (Books) and Eliza, and Eliza will meet a female assassin that just may be her match! I also enjoyed how the authors balanced the action (and there was plenty) with the character development, which kept me turning the pages to see what romp Eliza and Welly would get drawn into next during their investigation. The mystery kept me guessing and the atmosphere created by the authors was just wonderful. It was certainly easy to imagine being in the streets of Victorian London, amidst amazing steam gadgets and fog shrouded mystery! I will be anxiously awaiting the next installment in this series!