Disenchanted & Co., Part 1: Her Ladyship’s Curse by Lynn Viehl
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Series: Disenchanted & Co., Part 1
In a steampunk version of America that lost the Revolutionary War, Charmian (Kit) Kittredge makes her living investigating magic crimes and exposing the frauds behind them. While Kit tries to avoid the nobs of high society, as the proprietor of Disenchanted & Co. she follows mysteries wherever they lead.
Lady Diana Walsh calls on Kit to investigate and dispel the curse she believes responsible for carving hateful words into her own flesh as she sleeps. While Kit doesn’t believe in magic herself, she can’t refuse to help a woman subjected nightly to such vicious assaults. As Kit investigates the Walsh family, she becomes convinced that the attacks on Diana are part of a larger, more ominous plot—one that may involve the lady’s obnoxious husband.
Sleuthing in the city of Rumsen is difficult enough, but soon Kit must also skirt the unwanted attentions of nefarious deathmage Lucien Dredmore and the unwelcome scrutiny of police Chief Inspector Thomas Doyle. Unwilling to surrender to either man’s passion for her, Kit struggles to remain independent as she draws closer to the heart of the mystery. Yet as she learns the truth behind her ladyship’s curse, Kit also uncovers a massive conspiracy that promises to ruin her life—and turn Rumsen into a s supernatural battleground from which no one will escape alive.
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Before I start talking about the book, I need to make a confession: I have mixed feelings about Lynn Viehl. I tried her Darkyn series when I was taking my urban fantasy baby steps and found it to be okay but not nearly as thrilling as other series in the genre. As a result, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Her Ladyship’s Curse. I thought the premise of this story was intriguing but I wasn’t certain if Viehl’s writing would work better for me in a different genre. Thankfully, I did enjoy Her Ladyship’s Curse, though it’s not without flaws.
The good: great characters. Kit is a heroine you can immediately root for. She’s an independent orphan who disenchants magic for a living in a society that doesn’t approve of women working and that believes in magic. She’s got a brave heart and a strong mind, two traits I love in a protagonist. Kit’s also stubborn, kind, and skeptical, which made her really come alive for me. She’s got a rather interesting group of friends, including a fancy designer, a madam, and a disgraced inventor, and I want to know more about all of them.
There’s also Dredmore, a deathmage who has a keen interest in Kit. Kit is rather reluctantly attracted to him even though she thinks he’s a total fraud. To me, he came off as a high-handed jerk, though he does become more human as the story progresses. I’m waiting to see what happens in Part 2 before I decide how I feel about him.
The problematic: The worldbuilding lacked clarity. Viehl throws her readers into the world and the introduction was a bit too abrupt for me. I love being immersed in a story’s setting but I felt a bit lost with this one. It was more like drowning, which wasn’t pleasant. I didn’t have a clear sense of the history, it took a little while to realize that Toriana is the US and that Rumsen is probably somewhere near Seattle, and I generally felt quite confused about the setting for the first half of the story. I was pretty comfortable with the alternate history and the jargon by the time I hit the end of Her Ladyship’s Curse but it took far too long for me not to feel overwhelmed.
I also felt like the story ended quite abruptly. I know that this is Part 1 but I really wanted more story, to see if what would happen and to learn more about Toriana and her inhabitants. I’m interested to see the end of Kit’s story (or at least this story arc) so I hope Part 2 delivers a satisfying conclusion. Her Ladyship’s Curse is something of a tease in a lot of ways and I need some closure.