Phoenix Rising (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1) by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
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!
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I bought this book on a whim the other day and I’m so pleased that I did. After enjoying Philippa Ballantine‘s Geist (which I talked about here), I was excited to see that she’s also ventured into the world of steampunk, teaming up with Tee Morris (who I’d never heard of) to create a fun new series with its very own website.
The book is told from both Eliza and Books’ perspectives, helping the reader to get to know both protagonists. Eliza is brash and daring and saucy while Books is more reserved and cerebral. Nonetheless, after some significant personality clashes, the two become good partners, balancing each other nicely. And frankly, the clashes are a lot of fun to read. So is the romantic tension that comes off the pair in waves. 🙂
The plot of Phoenix Rising is truly fantastic. It meanders and has interesting side bits that will come into play in later novels but the meat of the story is always there, a type of storytelling that really appeals to me. I never knew what was going to happen but it all comes together beautifully in the end. The authors lead Eliza and Books on quite the chase as they try to solve a cold case involving Eliza’s ex-partner.
The authors do a great job of describing a steampunk Victorian England. It really comes alive for the reader, particularly The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. It’s a neat place and its agents investigate odd, sometimes mystical cases. All of the Ministry’s cold and closed cases reside in Books’ domain, the Archives, this wonderfully described room in the basement of the Ministry full of artifacts and neat gadgets. The steampunk elements are incorporated into the Ministry and the storyline in interesting and fun ways, creating a very vivid world.
I can’t wait to read about Eliza and Books’ next investigation!