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New Amsterdam

(New Amsterdam #1)

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  1,641 ratings  ·  202 reviews
Abigail Irene Garrett drinks too much. She makes scandalous liaisons with inappropriate men, and if in her youth she was a famous beauty, now she is both formidable--and notorious. She is a forensic sorceress, and a dedicated officer of a Crown that does not deserve her loyalty. She has nothing, but obligations.

Sebastien de Ulloa is the oldest creature she has ever known.
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 25th 2007 by Subterranean Press
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George Haven't read it, but when it gets a Gaylactic Spectrum Award Nominee for Best Novel (2008), as noted w/ the description, that's the way to bet.

Haven't read it, but when it gets a Gaylactic Spectrum Award Nominee for Best Novel (2008), as noted w/ the description, that's the way to bet.

P.S. Unless you have some particular axe to grind, better you should make it LGBT like nearly everyone else does ... at least for the 4-letter version.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,641 ratings  ·  202 reviews

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Richard Derus
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been revised and can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud! Note that the edition reviewed is out of print. The eBook for all platforms is $2.99.
I really wanted to like this. I *still* want to like it. In fact, I suspect it's actually a two-star book for me and I gave it an extra one because it's just depressing to give such an awesome concept two stars. But the fact is: I found reading this book either mildly entertaining or straight-up disengaging. Damn it.

Part of the problem is that I didn't know what I was getting into. The summaries I'd read made it sound like a sort of steampunk-and-magic-and-vampires detection duo. And that is not
Dec 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Sebastien de Ulloa is a vampire with a millennium and change to his name, a habit of caring about his food, and the desire to build a new life across the Atlantic in the colonies. Detective Crown Inspector Lady Abigail Irene Garrett is a forensic sorceress who has exiled herself from London for reasons that do not need exploring at this juncture. Together, they solve crime.

Oh, now, this? This I like.

Clever, tense, satisfying mosaic novel. It feels like the best of Bear’s writing: prose like perf
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Set between 1899 and 1903 in a world where the sun never set on the British Empire, where America is still deeply British on those small territories secured from the natives and with the French breathing down their neck across a tenuous border, New Amsterdam presents the great amateur detective, Don Sebastien de Ulloa. Travelling from Europe to the colonies across the Pacific by dirigible with his trusted young friend Jack, Sebastien is one of the oldest wampyrs living. While wampyrs are welcome ...more
He's a millennium-old vampire traveling to the New World to avoid vampire politics.
She's a detective-mage with a sense of duty that could crack iron.
Together... they fight crime!

Seriously, New Amsterdam is set in sort of a steampunk/magic/alt-history where the Hadenosaunee(Iriquois) and other native tribes kept the British and French from doing much in the US interior, the Dutch didn't cede their New York territory to Britain until the Napoleonic era, and the US never won independence. Lady Ab
Mar 23, 2009 rated it liked it
This is one of those rather peculiar books that I feel I ought to adore, and actually only mildly like--distressingly much of Elizabeth Bear is like that for me, where it just never quite makes the jump into deep passion. Abigail Irene is a fabulous character, and Sebastian and Jack are at least unconventional, and the world-building is comprehensive and well done, and I just never quite manage to break through into love for the book. I like it well enough to have read it, and re-read it in prep ...more
Jason Lang
Jun 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
A series of short stories about a steampunk-magic world Vampire who happens to be a private detective. Okay, so that sounds like an awful premise. But the book itself is quite entertaining, both for the random historical characters who sneak in, the well-thought out alternate history, the pains the vampire takes to hide his 'condition', the hints at background events (a war with France, Civil rights movements) and so on. It's surprisingly cerebrial, but in a candy-coated shell so you don't notic ...more
Bell Curran
Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What a pity that this is out of print. It's a very erudite version of steampunk. On one level, it is a series of chapters* that span the time period from 1899 to 1903. Each of the chapters stand alone, and perhaps in a previous life, they were short stories. Each chapter is its own self-contained mystery which is solved by 1,100-year old vampire and detective, Sebastien de Ulloa, and 50-ish former bombshell, Lady Abigail Irene Garrett, who is not only notorious for her liaisons with powerful, ma ...more
Dena Landon
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
New Amsterdam is a collection of short stories about Detective Crown Inspector Abigail Irene Garrett, a forensic sorceress, and Sebastien de Ulloa, a renowned amateur sleuth who also happens to be a vampire. The stories take place in an alternate history colonies, where tensions exist between the Empire, the French, and the Iroquois

The first story in the collection owes much to the tradition of English country house mysteries, only the suspects are all trapped in a dirigble instead. The writing
Danii Goldstein
Jul 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book is probably one of the first books in a long time to make me squeak out loud, cheer out loud, and genuinely cry for the characters.

The book is made of short stories and novellas detailing the adventures of DCI Abigail Irene Garrett and Sebastien De Ulloa, a vampiric detective closer to Sherlock Holmes than Nick Knight.

I honestly adored this book and as I'm typing here, I wish that I could give it a fair review or even discuss the book in any way, but I can't. While I can clinically d
May 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: mystery, fantasy enthusiasts
Shelves: favorites
This book was fantastic! Although I'm not sure why the inside jacket spends more time talking about Detective Crown Investigator Abigail Irene Garrett more than Sebastien de Ulloa, who really is the thread that ties all the stories in this book together.

The premise of a forensic sorcerer meeting up with a wampyr detective is quite original. Especially when most of the stories take place in New Amsterdam at the turn of the 20th century. This New Amsterdam (aka NYC) is still a colony of Britain, a
Apr 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Alright, I know it's good. Before it falls into steampunk cliches, it really is good and fresh (and this might be a good moment to mention that I despise the soft, devoid of meaning and social context, overabundant in clockwork and corsets thing that has become of steampunk). I was offered two delightful, intriguing, and original characters, and stylish mysteries, all wrapped up in pretty prose. But I couldn't connect to the stories emotionally - maybe because of their length, they felt too shor ...more
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Five (or so) novelettes--all alt-Victorian steampunk crime dramas, with intelligent characters who don't feel obligated to explain the significance of every insight and incident, and unusual in that most of the stories end with the perp's identification, not an artificial denouement or some violent resolution. A lot of vampiric style sensuousness and sex, but bearable nonetheless. I do wish Garrett had a stronger role to balance Sabastien's Presence--she ends up being more of a follower than an ...more
3.5 stars.

Review posted here at Fantasy Literature:
Crystal Hilbert
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book left me feeling so confused. I usually love Elizabeth Bear's work. "Bone and Jewel Creatures" has been a huge influence on my own writing for years now. A forensic sorceress and an ancient vampire solving crimes together? Sign me up! But sadly, this story doesn't nearly live up to its promise.

New Amsterdam breaks so many of the "how to get a book published" conventions that I don't even understand how it got picked up in the first place. The first chapter didn't have an engaging hook--
Lilia Ford

I had to start this several times before I was able to get anywhere with it. There are oddities to Bear's style and syntax that make her a more challenging (tiring) read than I'm used to--or that I prefer. It verges on arch, which is not a compliment from me, though I wouldn't go so far as to call it self-indulgent. Mostly you read this for the original set-up, depth of world-building detail--which is frankly pretty extraordinary--and a bracingly fresh heroine. Abigail Irene Garret, unlike vi
Sadie Forsythe
This is a hard book to review. The writing is lovely, as are the characters. But I find I didn't like it much, because it wasn't what I wanted it to be and I completely disliked the ending. How do you separate that out and be objective in the rating of a book? I don't know that I can. So, I'll just reiterate, the writing is lovely, as are the characters.
This is a collection of six mystery novellas and novelettes featuring Abigail Irene and Don Sebastien, and it is an excellent place to start with Elizabeth Bear. It is one of her most accessible works, so if you can find a copy of it (not necessarily easy, with small-press releases) and enjoy quality prose and characters, I strongly recommend checking it out.

The novellas are sequential and build on one another, so the collection should be read in order. It starts as Don Sebastien leaves the Old
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk, kindle
Elizabeth Bear is a prodigious fantasy author, and while this is my first read by her, it's by no means the last. She is exquisite, meticulous with her world-building and full of convoluted ideas and characters which is exactly what I love in my authors.

New Amsterdam is a great steampunk mystery blending the paranormal into murdery investigations of all sorts with a fantastic skill. Don't be fooled by the synopsis into thinking that there is this great romance between Sebastien and Abigail Irene
Apr 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of mystery, fantasy, steampunk, Victoriana
It's obvious that Elizabeth Bear owes a huge debt to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle--the moody quasi-Victorian setting, the traditional mystery plot structure, even her decision to write this book as linked novellas/short stories are all reminiscent of the Sherlock Holmes series. What separates New Amsterdam from its predecessors is its style. Bear effectively blends the traditional detective-driven mystery with elements of the police procedural, alternate history, fantasy, noir, steampunk, and the vamp ...more
Apr 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, horror
See my other reviews at Never Enough Books

Abigail Irene Garrett is a formidable and notorious woman. She drinks far too much and sleeps with married men. She has nothing but obligations. She is also a forensic sorceress, working for a Crown that has done little to win her loyalty.

Sebastien de Ulloa is a vampire. Incredibly old, he has forgotten his birth place and even the year he was born. What he does remember is the woman who made him what he is.

In a world where the sun never set on the Briti
Kate O'Hanlon
(view spoiler)

review update 21.09.11
*Deep breath*
This was a wonderful collection of paranormal murder mysteries. While Sebastien contains many the tropes of a traditional rules-vampire Bear breathes life in to his angst ridden un-death with small touches. For example, Sebastien knits. It's hard not to find this completely adorable. (Geek ladies are all about knitting apparently, at the last con I was at the front row of almost ever
Sigrid Ellis
Mar 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I try to write reviews that will be meaningful, and helpful to others, without giving too much away. Yet giving away the plot doesn't give away the skill with which that plot is carried out. It doesn't give away the author's voice, or mastery of language. To tell you what happens doesn't convey how the characters feel about what happened, nor does it explain how that reaction manifests.

New Amsterdam is about a vampire and his court. It is about a DCI in a corrupt political system. It is a police
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read another review that said it was a great book, except the last two chapters are difficult to get into. I completely agree. The writing is concise and descriptive; I'm envious of her ability with words. But once I got to the last 50 odd pages, I just could't seem to keep myself reading. So, when faced with the dilemma of returning the book to the library or keeping it long enough to finish (despite the fees), I returned it. I did skim the pages, but I didn't quite finish it all.

I give it 4
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. Not that it was bad, really. I think I was disappointed that the author created a fascinating alternate reality and then teased me with mere glimpses into its world. Even the characters were constantly held at arm's length. And the plots were so dependent on arcane bits of fantasy intel that it was pretty much impossible to make actual sense of anything while it was happening. As a reader, I was just along for the ride and had to trust that it w ...more
chris tierney
Apr 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: alt-history, f, sff
A series of connected short stories and novellas (novelettes? I didn't do a word count). Each is a mystery featuring one or both of forensic sorceress Abigail Irene Garrett and Sebastien de Ulloa, wampyr and amateur detective. Though each mystery is self-contained, the deepening connections among the characters give the collection the flow of a novel with an emotional climax in the last story.

The elevator-pitch for this book ("magical Victorian CSI! with a vampire Sherlock Holmes! and dirigibles
This is a sort of mannerpunk or alternate history fantasy or some subset of fantasy I don't know the name of yet set in 1899-1903 with New York still under control of the British crown, it was Dutch until the Napoleonic Wars, with the Haudosonee in control of most of the interior of North America. (White people might think that, but do Plains Indians agree? That’s unfortunately not covered in this novel.) Four short stories set around Sebastien de Ulloa, a wampyr traveling to the New World with ...more
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steampunkery
DNF, though for purposes of my challenge count I will mark a book as read if I've completed 75% of it.

This book had so much potential but ultimately, bored me to the point that I realized I didn't even care about how it ended. That's very hard to do with a story that had elements I'm all about - paranormal, steampunk, lady sorcerer detectives - but sadly, it fell so flat. All those things were done in such a mundane & uninteresting way - for all the talk of Abby Irene's wand, her magic use w
This was a good book. It reminded me slightly of some of the Agatha Christie mysteries I've read in the had a very noir feel to it. I enjoyed the fact that each chapter was actually a short story & they were organized by order of events.

Even though it had a short story/anthology feel, each story/chapter advanced the characters a little bit more.

It was a fun read, entertaining and different from most of the stuff that I've come across lately.

Even though one of the main characters i
Susan Chamberlain
Aug 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Sherlock Holmes goes to Transylvania. Really. Imagine a world where magic is practiced by government certified sorcerers and vampires are real but illegal. The New World colonies never broke away from the European Empires, westward expansion/manifest destiny were halted by the Iroquois nation, and broadcast electricity lights the streets of Paris. A thousand-year-old vampire with several notorious identities teams up with Lady Abigail Irene, who also happens to be a detective of sorcery and mist ...more
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Other books in the series

New Amsterdam (5 books)
  • Seven for a Secret (New Amsterdam, #2)
  • The White City (New Amsterdam, #3)
  • Ad Eternum (New Amsterdam, #4)
  • Garrett Investigates (New Amsterdam, #5)
“You know," he said, "every time a vampire says he doesn't believe in lycanthropes, a werewolf bursts into flames.” 34 likes
“The words were low, more shape than breath.” 4 likes
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