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A Thousand Perfect Things

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  235 ratings  ·  70 reviews
In this epic new work, the award-winning Kenyon creates an alternate 19th century with two warring continents on an alternate earth: the scientific Anglica (England) and magical Bharata (India). Emboldened by her grandfather's final whispered secret of a magical lotus, Tori Harding, a young Victorian woman and aspiring botanist, must journey to Bharata, with its magics, ...more
Paperback, 292 pages
Published August 27th 2013 by Premier Digital Publishing (first published April 12th 2013)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing

I couldn't help it, guys, I loved this book! It was a little bit strange, atmospheric and at times really beautiful. A bit like The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins?

A Thousand Perfect Things was a curious mix of genres, a little bit of new-Victorian alternative historical fiction with a dash of fantasy, maybe? Whatever it was, if you enjoyed A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan and Pantomime by Laura Lam, this has a slightly similar feel to it.

What really charmed me is this lush,
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Equality is the call of the new age. We must live side-by-side, with fewer distinctions and more compassion. That man isnt your equal and cant be held to your standard. Surely you admit that. Indeed, I do not.

Jane Austen meets Jules Verne meets E. M. Forster. The story slowly morphs from being a novel of manners into an indictment of British colonialism. Fantasy of the Guy Gavriel Kay sort, merging gently with the natural world.

The occupants of the zenana had no modesty. Why would they? Sex is
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting when I read this book, but it certainly isn't what I got. Kenyon's writing was extremely enjoyable -- she is very descriptive, and paints a gorgeous picture for the reader. However, that's about as far as I can praise this book.

While I understand this is meant to be an "alternate history" it seems as if Kenyon used the term in order to get away with her lazy concepts of Anglica (England) and Bharata (India). I found myself constantly rolling my eyes at
Bryan Thomas Schmidt
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
World building and characterization are top notch. The setting jumps to life off the page. Astoria Harding is a compelling lead and she captures you so much for the first 2/3rds of this, that you can't put it down. But when her emotional arc peaks, it seems the book does too. I found the ending to feel like an overly long denouement, even though a lot happens. It just felt anticlimactic to some stuff which came before. That's my only complaint about an otherwise exceptional read.
Kurt Springs
Oct 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In an alternate world, with an equivalent of the British Empire in India, Kay Kenyon as spun a tail of science and magic. Astoria (Tori) Harding is a woman wishing to be a scientist in a world mimicking 19th Century England, where woman are rarely allowed to become scientists. She travels to the Indian realm to find the Golden Lotus and finds a world of intrigue, suspision, and hatred.

Kay Kenyon has woven a fascinating, magical tale of choices and consequences
Review abridged from Plenty of Pages.

I want to start by saying that this book surprised me. I've never read anything by Kay Kenyon before, so when I got the ARC of her newest book I didn't know what to expect, and my reaction was mixed.

Grief does things to you. It's a weird alchemy that takes root in your mind when you lose someone-- some features of your life become less important, or perhaps only seem to do so as you become listless or depressed or angry. But the opposite can also happen, a
Lauren Scharhag
Nov 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Review can also be found on:

. . . should a thousand perfect things ever be found, the world would end. Therefore to preserve the world, Rama declared that every manifested thing should have a flaw.

Such is the crux of A Thousand Perfect Things, the latest novel by award-winning sci-fi/fantasy author Kay Kenyona sweet irony, since Kenyon has brought us a flawless work. Rich, complex and sweeping in scope, it takes place across two continents and features acts of war,
e-Arc provided by NetGalley.

In an alternate world where a familiar nineteenth-century England (Anglica) builds a sea-spanning Bridge that makes crossing the kraken-filled waters to a recognizable India (Bharata) safer and more expedient, young Astoria (called Tori) is determined to find the Golden Lotus, a mythical flower that her grandfather discovered in Nanpura, across the Bridge. She is club-footed and scholarly, having spent her time with her grandfather, a student of the natural world.
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-worlds
*I received a copy from Edelweiss for review. All opinions are 100% my own.*

Initial Review:
This book is all different types of confusing and fascinating all rolled into one. The story definitely dragged on more than I expected and there were multiple moments where the plot could have just ended but it kept going.

Full Review:
This book was both frustrating and amazing. I talked about how I struggled so much with coming up for a rating for this book in my January Wrap-Up and I avoided writing this
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book caught me unexpectedly off guard several times. I felt like Sebastian in the Never Ending Story because I would look up from the book and think, "No way! Did that really just happen?" with this shocked look on my face. In the beginning, as the story unfolded, I thought I might know exactly how this book was going to go. But it didn't. Thank goodness for that! (Though at times I did predict the plot bomb coming, but that's ok too, because I was wrong on some of them.)

The heroine has a
Brendan Mancilla
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When a novel like A Thousand Perfect Things comes along, it behooves readers to stop and take notice. Kay Kenyon's self-described first foray into fantasy isn't simply an alternate-world take on Anglo-Indian relations, it's a literary triumph that stands upon a dozen universal themes to reach its obscenely successful heights.

At the heart of this book is the theme of duality, explored in the dichotomies of magic and science, white and brown, good and evil. The novel's central protagonist, Astoria
Henry Lazarus
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Kay Kenyon borrows from the Sepoy rebellion and of a young Victorian woman who discovers A Thousand Perfect Things (trade from Premier Digital Publishing ). There are only two continents in this world, England and India and England has built a thousand mile bridge between them. Astorias Grandfather was a famous explorer who brought back a cutting from a golden Lutus that he and Antonia think will allow the scientific society to consider working the wht Magic of India. Her grandfather dies and ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book on my Kindle app in late-night-can't-sleep snatches over a three week period. I kept forgetting the characters, but the way I read the book might have a lot to do with that. I never found myself thinking about the story the next day, but there againlate night snatches. Still, if I'd have enjoyed it more it wouldn't have taken me so long to get through it. I did think it was imaginative but it just never really grabbed me. To be fair, I probably should have read it in book format ...more
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
A little slow to start but well worth the effort. Kay Kenyon has wowed us all again with her vivid world that could have been with a twist! Please take the time to read this lovely tale!
Oct 16, 2013 rated it liked it
A well written and creative book that never quite grabbed me.
The Speculative Post
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: janea-s-reviews
What really drew me to this book is that there isnt a lot of Steampunk (or even pseudo-Steampunk) that deals with the conflict of cultures of 19th century England and India. Perhaps this is because much of these conflicts are missing from the American consciousness: America is very good about only being aware of what America does and ignoring the rest of the world. The United States didnt have colonies in India, so we dont talk about the British Colonization of India. A brief background for ...more
Patrick St-Denis
Apr 30, 2015 rated it liked it
If you have been hanging around these parts for a while, then you know that I'm a big fan of Kay Kenyon's The Entire and the Rose science fiction series. If you haven't given Bright of the Sky, A World Too Near, City Without End, and Prince of Storms a shot yet, you need to put them on your wishlist ASAP!

Hence, when the author's new publisher got in touch with me to inquire whether or not I'd be willing to read and review A Thousand Perfect Things, of course I agreed! I was curious to see if
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a hard time believing in the world created in this story. But I ended up really loving many of the characters including Tori, and I found the story to be very engaging.
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
(This review also appears at the Court Street Literary Collective at

Kay Kenyons A Thousand Perfect Things is similar in some ways to Susanna Clarkes 2004 novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It takes place in a slightly askew, alternate, but recognizable reality, and it involves magic, though perhaps not the kind of magic we might expect.

In Kenyons nineteenth century, Anglica (a version of England) is ruled by King Albert, and Bharata (India) is one of his
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Anglica, an alternate version of Victorian England, and Bharata, the Indian sub-continent, are in the midst of a cold war with one another. The Anglicans are using new technology to promote their imperialistic policies. Meanwhile, the Bharatans struggle with rules imposed on their society that they dont want, or understand. As this war escalates, people on both sides are searching for enlightenment; the Anglicans using science and reason, the Bharatans using mysticsm, spirituality and magic. ...more
This review can also be found on my blog, Snowflakes and Spider Silk.

I enjoy alternative histories and fantasy novels, and as an American anglophile of Indian origin, this book seemed like it was written for me! I can safely say I liked this novel, but it wasn't as good as I hoped or expected it to be.

The story is set in an alternate world that is separated into two main regions - Anglica, the seat of science and logic, and Bharata, the region of mysteries and magic. As in our own world,
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
This is a difficult novel to define - it's a fascinating mash-up of old-fashioned adventure and fantasy. While it didn't quite captivate me on every level, it's left me wanting to know more about this world and some of the characters who inhabit it.

The plotting is generally pacy and manages to combine the enjoyable predictability of an adventure story with unexpected twists. The 'hero's journey' narrative that Tori follows provides a satisfying structure for the subplots to be played out
Jemima Pett
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How to categorise this book? An alternative world fantasy where H G Wells meets the Raj Quartet, with a touch of steampunk and Sharpe. Its a clash between science and mysticism; a treatise on colonialism and an imaginative mix of culture, politics, love and duty. There are only two continents in this world, Anglica and Bharatha, and they have been joined by a monstrous 1000 mile bridge, or pontoon, on the ocean. Wondrous engineering, yet this world appears to be pre-steam age.

Astoria Harding,
Aug 16, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I would call this fantastical realism set in Victorian times. The world in the novel was slightly altered, having only two continents (Anglica and Bharata) with a bridge joining them. The book provides wonderful imagery, strong female characters, brilliant ideas and suspense. A perfect escape from the worries of the present.
Aug 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
In an unusual story, Kay Kenyon has written an alternative history that finds two countries at the center of this universe. The first is Anglica or England that is very comfortable for a western reader, and while some aspects of society are overly stereotypical, it is easily recognizable as a country that is based in science and logic, with spiritual elements being consigned to backrooms if not entirely scorned in society. The second country is Bharata, most closely related to India, and is a ...more
Anna Tan
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-copy, e-books
From this holy place he decided that should a thousand perfect things ever be found, the world would end. Therefore to preserve the world, Rama declared that every manifested though should have a flaw.

Astoria Harding has a tragic flaw. Her club foot has prevented her from participating in the many feminine pursuits of the day - dancing, socialising, finding a husband - so her grandfather, the renowned botanist Sir Charles Littlewood, has trained her in scientific methods and inquiry, nurturing
Abbie F.
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-daily-quirk
I have always been a huge fan of both historical fiction and fantasy, so when I picked up A Thousand Perfect Things by Kay Kenyon and realized it combines my two favorite genres, I couldnt wait to keep reading.

Astoria Harding is not considered a normal young lady by the standards of society in 1857 Londinium, Anglica. Instead of wishing for a husband, she spends her time learning about the natural sciences from her Grandpapa and longing to make a scientific discovery that would get her inducted
Aug 15, 2013 rated it liked it
This review is part of my weekly review of books. Available here

I will however, tell you about A Thousand Perfect Things by Kay Kenyon. I didn't know what to expect when I started this book. I hadn't read anything else by this author. I got the book from the lovely people at NetGalley and I became instantly gripped. The story is set in the late 1800's in a steampunk version of England - referred to Anglica and moves quickly to Bharata (India) where the
Barbara K.
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star, fiction, fantasy
This story takes place in an alternate reality, a world in which there are two continents, Anglica and Bharata, one being similar to England of the mid-nineteenth century, and the other similar to India of the same time period. Anglica's culture revolves around science and religion, while Bharata's revolves around mysticism and magic. The protagonist is Tori Harding, a young Anglican woman from an upper-crust family who has a disability that she and others believe will prevent her from ever ...more
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Kay Kenyon is a fantasy and science fiction author. Her latest works are The Dark Talents novels, a trilogy of psi-Talents, Nazi conspiracies, and espionage in 1936 Europe. ("Riveting." --Publishers Weekly) The trilogy begins with At the Table of Wolves.

Other fantasy novels include Queen of the Deep and A Thousand Perfect Things. Her science fiction has been shortlisted for the P.K. Dick, the

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