Release Date: January 28, 2014
Genre: Steampunk | LGBT
“Way will open."
She is Artifice.
A resurrected criminal and agent of HRH Prince Albert’s Secret Commission.
An artificial ghost.
He is Jim Dastard.
The oldest surviving agent of the Secret Commission.
An animated skull.
A mentor to newly resurrected agents.
It is 1880 in a mechanical and supernatural London. Agents of Prince Albert’s Secret Commission, their criminal pasts wiped from their memories, are resurrected to fight the eldritch evils that threaten England. Amidst this turmoil, Jim Dastard and his new partner Artifice must stop a re-animationist raising murderous dead children. As Art and Jim pursue their quarry, Art discovers clues about her past self, and through meeting various intriguing women—a journalist, a medium, a prostitute, and a mysterious woman in black—where her heart lies. Yet the question remains: What sort of criminal was she? A new beginning, a new identity, and new dangers await Art as she fights for the Secret Commission and for her second life.
I simply love Elizabeth Watasin's brand of steampunk! Her novels are intricate enough to be compelling yet simply contructed that it makes for an enjoyable quick read. As you all have probably experienced in the past, novellas are tricky to pull off and only a few have mastered the art of writing SHORT and SUCCINCT stories that still manage to be satisfying. Well, I'm adding EWatasin to my list.
RISEN is the first volume of her Dark Victorian series. Simply put, her heroine, Artifice, is a reanimation or what they call Quaker in this world. Nothing like Frankenstein or a zombie, Art's more majestic than that and doesn't look like she was butchered. In fact, Art is such an imposing figure, handsome comes to mind when I first read her. She's somewhat Amazonian in appearance, talks funny, fights like a warrior, but has the kindest heart. The hook for me is her past, who was Art before she became a soldier for the Secret Commission? RISEN has given me vibes that Art's past self is a far cry, if not entirely opposite, from her current life.
Jim is not Art's love interest because Art like women. He is her partner and sort of Art's guide in this reawakening of hers. I love Jim, he's funny, intuitive and observant, he isn't pushy nor does he feel threatened by Art. He doesn't come across like a thirsty dude too, you know the type who can't seem to keep their ding-a-lings in their pants and would make a move on every woman that crosses his path? These two make quite the tandem and I look forward to reading more of their Batman-Robin-like adventures.
Dark Victorian has a simplistic yet very Steampunk-ish world. As I mentioned, EWatasin builds her world as the story progress and doesn't dump all of these info on us. Her descriptions are vivid but not too heavy as to weigh down the pace of the story. The mystery and investigation was pretty straightforward too. Capture the dude who's been re-animating vengeful corpses and as Art & Jim pursue him, Art's curious story tricked in slowly. And although there is an element of sexy to her novels (both I've read are LGBT), it's clean. The intimacies are implied and I love that about her books. Art's past made me even more curious towards the end because her ex-girlfriend had a chapter, talking about Art before she became and agent and her (girldfriend) hand in Art's transformation into a Quaker. I look forward to discovering Art's backstory and how her reunion with her ex is going to be. I'm very intrigued...