(Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences 1)
By Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
Action-packed Steampunk with an Utterly Inappropriate Heroine
Paperback, 402 pages
Published by Harper Eos
Released April 26, 2011
When Agent Eliza Braun rescues Archivist Wellington Books, Esquire from the clutches of the House of Usher’s Secret Antarctica Base, she has no idea that another of her decision to defy orders will land her off active duty and in the depths of the ministry with that very same Archivist as her boss. But when rooting through the dusty crates of forgotten cases, she finds the case that destroyed her previous partner, landing him in Bedlam. And though Books is reluctant to break with protocol, the chase she leads him on soon proves that sometimes one must disobey orders in order to protect crown and country.
One of the main things I found set this apart from other steampunks I’ve read (and I’ll admit I haven’t read anything close to everything in the genre) is that the disparity between the Brits and their colonial brethren is highlighted most assiduously.
I enjoy the reversal of the roles; with the female lead being the one most likely to get into (and out of) a brawl, and the male lead being quite bookish and I do enjoy how often he hands her tea. Though I would have liked a sentence or two more back story before Wellington manages to push past his own scruples and save the day.
The bad guys are utterly detestable. Never have I so badly wanted a woman to kill her husband. That being said, the reasons that they are so detestable are quite unsettling, and if you’re at all an empathetic reader as I am, you will certainly be out of sorts for several chapters. That being said, they are a very believable evil, never crossing over into the realm of hyperbolic deviance that can so often be done in this sort of novel.
The novel wraps up in a way that could easily have been a stand alone, but it doesn’t knot up all the loose ends, so the sequel should play into this story line very well. I’m looking forward to the next installment.
Buy, Borrow, Brush Past:
This novel is certainly one I think worthy of your shelves. It’s a Buy! Unless you hate steampunk of course, and then you’ll just want to brush past.