First, and foremost, I really love the concept behind Phoenix Rising. Part Avengers (the 60's British TV show, not the superhero comics), part X-Files...moreFirst, and foremost, I really love the concept behind Phoenix Rising. Part Avengers (the 60's British TV show, not the superhero comics), part X-Files, part Wild Wild West (again, the TV show, not the movie), and gloriously, drippingly, extravagantly steampunk from beginning to end. It's a romp, and a hoot, and a ripping good yarn to boot. It's a shame this didn't come out in a hardback edition (I've grown to dislike the smaller paperbacks, and opted to finish reading this in ebook form), because it's the kind of book that should be enjoyed in front of a fire, sipping a glass of port, while wearing a smoking jacket. (Okay, I confess, I don't smoke and I rarely wear jackets around the house, so make mine a fluffy dressing robe.) Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine have struck steampunk gold with this collaboration, and I eagerly await the next and subsequent installments of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series.
The two main characters are likable and accessible. The reserved archivist, Wellington Books, is just the right blend of British posh and Victorian gear-geek to play foil to the impulsive and -- dare I say it? -- explosive colonial, Eliza Braun. While not an exact copy of Steed and Peale from the Avengers, this duo has all the same sparks flying between them. The interaction of these two is what makes this book (and the hopefully the forthcoming series) a rollicking success.
That said, I got the sense in reading Phoenix Rising that the authors may have been too rushed to complete it on time. At times the writing seems hurried, with shortcuts and liberties taken that left me wanting more detail, and a great deal more dialog between Eliza and "Welly". For example, several times Wellington is described as a sort of amateur inventor, and yet we never see the plethora of little gadgets and failed experiments one might expect from such a character. And far too often one or the other character "thinks" they should say something witty, but then doesn't. With characters this awesome, I want to hear every witty thing they have to say, whether they say it out loud or not!
In the past year or so, I've read some pretty bad steampunk. It's a genre searching for itself, and sometimes it seems like it's searching in the dark. Well, Morris and Ballantine have found the light and this steampunk effort glows with awesome!(less)
This was a cracking good read. Funny and engaging. I really liked the characters and Ms. Carriger's ability to stick with the Victorian vernacular is...moreThis was a cracking good read. Funny and engaging. I really liked the characters and Ms. Carriger's ability to stick with the Victorian vernacular is delightful. While I thought the love interest between the leads was a bit rushed, it was still entertaining and never got in the way of the plot. If you liked the urban fantasy of the last decade and are looking for a great introduction to the world of steam fiction, this is definitely the book for you to read.(less)
Geist by Philippa Ballantine is one of those genre breaking books that raises the bar and sets new standards for others to follow. She breaks the mold...moreGeist by Philippa Ballantine is one of those genre breaking books that raises the bar and sets new standards for others to follow. She breaks the mold by making her beautiful, powerful main protagonist a woman pushing middle-age with a crotchety disposition. Her partner is a young man with great power, little experience, and again playing against type, doesn't fall instantly in love with his new partner. He never does, they have a close relationship that never strays over the line into seduction, even though the sexual tension is always there. The third player in this triangle story is a roguish pirate with a unique problem that tests them all in a plot that rarely slows down to let you catch your breath for very long.
If I have one issue with this novel, it's that the relationships develop a little too quickly for my liking. That has a lot to do with the fast pacing of the plot, but I could have done with a slightly longer book that let the characters discover one another a bit more before jumping right into the action. Still, the characters are not the least bit shallow and I love them all. The fast pacing makes this a page-turner of the first order. Make sure you have plenty of time set aside to finish this one, you won't want to put it down.(less)