I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
On a freezing Christmas Eve in 1879, a forensic psychic reader is summoned from her Baker Street lodgings to the scene of a questionable death. Alexandrina Victoria Pendlebury (named after her godmother, the current Queen of England) is adamant that the death in question is a magically compromised murder and not a suicide, as the police had assumed, after the shocking revelation contained by the body in question, Alex must put her personal loss aside to uncover the deeper issues at stake, before more bodies turn up.
Turning to some choice allies—the handsome, prescient Lieutenant Brooks, the brilliant, enigmatic Lord Desmond, and her rapscallion cousin James—Alex will have to marshal all of her magical and mental acumen to save Queen and Country from a shadowy threat. Our singular heroine is caught up in this rousing gaslamp adventure of cloaked assassins, meddlesome family, and dark magic.
***2018 Summer of Spies***
Recommended for fans of the Victorian lady detective form of fantasy.
I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of the steampunk subgenre, although I seem to be warming up to that category as I read more of it. This novel is one of those best suited to my particular tastes in fantasy.
I chose it partly because of the series title, Her Majesty’s Psychic Service. It is definitely a mystery with a dollop of romance—I’d been hoping for something spy related, from that series title. But there was enough intrigue that I’m still counting it towards my Summer of Spies.
I loved the family complications that the heroine, Alex Pendlebury, coped with throughout the story and the workplace machinations that also had to be factored into her calculations. Operating on the theory that forgiveness is easier to get than permission, Alex shows a lot of initiative on the investigation, aided by the sometimes-prescient always-handsome Lieutenant Brooks.
As Patricia Briggs wrote in her blurb for the book, there is “Murder, mayhem and tea.” If you like alternate-history Victorian adventure with witty banter and paranormal talents, this is the book for you. Now I am just crossing my fingers that Ms. Elrod will be publishing another volume in the series eventually.