Kristen Callihan comes to the blog today with the first in her Darkest London Steampunk series, this one borders on historic urban fantasy with multiple paranormal and oft-magical elements contained within. Narrated by Moira Quirk, please read on for my review of
I had my mojo returned for Steampunk with a little more with some releases from another author, and this title jumped out at me with solid reviews, a good narrative voice and plenty of ‘newness’ that hinted to elements I’d never before experienced. Kristen Callihan has a solid start in this series with her protagonist in Miranda, who combines her loyalty to her family with a sense of determination and willingness to learn to control her ‘firestarter” capabilities, even as she is struggling to find a way to rescue her family from debt. She’s guilty for the family worries, she believes that they are a result of her ability, and it’s then her job to solve the problems. Of course, her father spends more time reminding her of their difficulties and how they are her fault, even putting her out onto the streets as a pickpocket, before making a bargain to sell her to the next bidder – a disreputable but wealthy nobleman.
Lord Benjamin Archer has a wicked temper, a scarred face and the money to stay as isolated as he chooses – he’d left London to pout (and yes, he really was pouting a bit), but has now come back to town. Unfortunately, he’s not made many friends, and plenty of old enemies remember the wicked temper and the cold demeanor, and he’s under fire. But, there’s a chance to buy a wife, some stability and an errand runner – and Miranda fits the bill. If she will have him.
From the start – Miranda and Archer have an interesting, if wholly unique attraction, one that feels very much like the Beauty and the Beast story, with one large caveat. Miranda, despite her ability and being a pickpocket, is wholly unaware of the darker side of London – with the dealings, danger and often dark magic that lurks in the shadows. But, not surprisingly, Archer is protective of her, and not willing to let her be thrown to the wolves without a safety net. And when she has to fight for herself and him, as well as their future, the true connection and potential for them as a pair is revealed. A bit quick to that final closure, with no real question as to whether or not Miranda would best the villain, but the backstory, the connection, and the worlds created in and around the streets of Victorian London are marvelous.
Narration is provided by Moira Quirk and she brings the character of Miranda to life – allowing her hesitations, her hell no moments, and even the tenderness as her affections for Archer change comes clearly into focus, and allows the emotions in her story to shine through. Archer has his own set of growls and grunts, perfectly suited to the good man playing the bad boy, and he’s got that ‘fake it till you make it’ bravado solidly in place, giving listeners a sense of digging through to find his heart. Other characters are clearly available and recognizable without relying on vocal tricks and tics to make a villain sound evil or her father seem grasping. A lovely introduction to the series, sure to encourage listeners to hide away in the back alleys of London and watch the events pass by.
Stars: Overall 4 Narration: 4 Story 4
Author: Kristen Callihan
Series: Darkest London #1
Also in this series: Moonglow, Winterblaze
Genre: British, Historic Elements, Paranormal, Science Fiction / Steampunk
Narrator: Moira Quirk
Published by: Forever, Hachette Audio
Published on: 31 July, 2012
Source: Hachette Audio
Audio Length: 11 Hours: 16 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible
Once the flames are ignited . . .
Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family's fortune decimated and forced her to wed London's most nefarious nobleman.
They will burn for eternity . . .
Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it's selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can't help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn't felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask.
A copy of this title was provided via Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.