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Creatures of Will and Temper

(Diabolist's Library #1)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  1,060 ratings  ·  242 reviews
“A delightful, dark, and entertaining romp . . . Molly Tanzer is at the top of her form in this beautifully constructed novel.”—Jeff VanderMeer, best-selling author of the Southern Reach trilogy

Victorian London is a place of fluid social roles, vibrant arts culture, fin-de-siècle wonders . . . and dangerous underground diabolic cults. Fencer Evadne Gray cares for none of
Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 14th 2017 by John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books
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Karen No, and I even think "a riff on" The Picture of Dorian Gray is too strong. There are some *nods* to TPODG but that's about it.
Lori While there is a planned sequel, Tanzer has said in an interview that it isn't a direct sequel and has a different setting. This novel has closure and…moreWhile there is a planned sequel, Tanzer has said in an interview that it isn't a direct sequel and has a different setting. This novel has closure and can certainly be read as a stand-alone work.

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ֆɦɛʟʟʏ ȶɦɛ քǟȶʀօռ ֆǟɨռȶ օʄ ƈʊʀʍʊɖɢɛօռʟʏ ƈʀօռɛֆ
June 1, 2018: On sale for $2.99 at US Amazon! Great deal for one of my favorite books.

Review also found at:

This book isn't released until November 2017, so I'll try and keep this brief and nonspoilery. Loosely based on The Picture of Dorian Gray, the story revolves around a young woman named Dorina Gray and her sister, Evadne.

Dorina and Evadne have a difficult relationship. When Evadne catches her with a girl and tells their parents, she is forced to chap
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYOOOONE (at least if you like urban fantasy)
This book has been ABSOLUTELY WOW and if we hang out, I've already told you countless times that you need to read it. If I haven't? Well, YOU NEED TO READ IT. There. And now onto the reasons why! [If you want to read this with proper formatting, you can read it on my blog here.

Essentially, it's a retelling of Dorian Gray. But it's also very different! First of all, the main characters are girls. Two sisters, Evadne and Dorina could not be more different from each other – Evadne is h
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I really wanted to enjoy this, and on paper it ticks all the boxes. Historical high adventure with demons, multiple gay lovers and drama? Yes please. For those reasons alone I can't rate this less than three, because in its own way it's enjoyable and unique. But...

I found I really couldn't get past the writing style for this. The story itself and the characters are great, especially the sisters, but the style just put me off. It wa
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Molly Tanzer’s Creatures of Will and Temper is the kind of novel that looks up at you with a mischievous smirk. It is the story of two Victorian-era sisters, Dorina and Evadne Gray, who go to spend a summer in London with their Uncle Basil. Dorina, 17 years old and the younger of the two, wants to be an art critic and is eager to soak up the culture of the big city; Evadne, eleven years Dorina’s senior, is conscripted against her will and charged with keeping her sibling’s wilder impulses in che ...more
This book ticked all my boxes! Victoriana, demons, romance and surprise. By the halfway mark I was looking up what else this author has written. A thumping good read, a great action scene near the end and a twist and reversal in the story that I wasn’t expecting!
Many thanks to Netgalley for an ARC of this book. All opinions are my own.
Sherwood Smith
The best way I can think of to describe this weird fantasy set in fin-de-siecle London one universe over is to compare it to Shostakovich's Eleventh Symphony, which blends classical and modern musical themes as it tells the story of the 1905 Revolution.

It starts with deceptive slowness, as Victorian novels do, sedate, with attention to late-Victorian detail, but with contemporary viewpoints skewing the Victoriana, and period language mixed with modern.

Here and there sharp thematic hints: the men
Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer is an absolute fabulous read and I am very thankful (yet again) I follow the right people on Goodreads, otherwise I would never have found this jewel. So thank you Heather Jones for writing that fantastic review and pointing me towards this book (I knew it was wise to follow a historian). I did not know Molly Tanzer but now I do and I will make sure to read more of her work.

I’m not going into the story, it’s done very expertly already and I wouldn’t h
I don’t know how I feel about this book. Loosely based on “The Portrait of Dorian Gray” (, “Creatures of Will and Temper” was made to entice me: turn-of-the-century London, period-appropriate fascination with occultism, cross-dressing and decadent aristocrats… fencing! And of course, Molly Tanzer’s sharp and elegant writing! On the other hand, the uneven pacing and expedited world-building made what could have been an enchanting story feel rushed and weir ...more
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tanzer's written a fantasy novel of great focus and balance, a chamber drama of demons, romance, and swashbuckling, where the plot hinges on characters' misapprehensions of one another and of themselves. Evadne and Dorina, the sister protagonists, have a well-drawn tense and tender relationship—tender, at least, in the sense a wound's tender—and the occult mysteries, demon hunting, and so on, reinforced and heightened the character drama without dissolving it into plot.

I'd advise against going
Jennie Damron
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored this book. One of the rare instances where I loved all the characters, even the nasty ones. The writing sucked me in, the story so fast paced and the action on point. Evadne and Dorina were wonderful, believable characters and Lady Henry was complicated but, likeable. I bought this book on whim thinking it looked like it would amuse me. The book had me in its clutches and would not let go. Highly recommend.
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
seductive, decadent, victorian and feminist?
be still my morally grey heart.
A surprisingly light, amusing read that comes across more as romantic urban fantasy in late Victorian drag than any sort of serious attempt to address or reimagine Wilde's Dorian Gray.

Featuring lots of fencing and lesbian love, the novel gathers together a motley group of characters and puts them through their paces rather than developing them in any significant way. That's all right though, as this is a clearly a story of adventure and the fast pace through the last half of the book hardly all
Heather Jones
There is nothing quite so frustrating to me as coming late to a wonderful book because the cover synopsis deliberately concealed the information that would lead me to put it on my TBR list. And given my reading habits, that usually happens when the publisher has decided to erase all but the vaguest hint of queer content.

I loved Molly Tanzer’s weird western Vermillion, so I’d idly glanced at Creatures of Will and Temper a few times in hopes of something similar, but put it down again thinking abo
Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
Set in Victorian London, we learn of two sisters who are about as opposite as you can get. While they struggle in their relationship with each other, their trip introduces other characters who become vast influences on each of them. The beginning of the book lays a foundation of their individual characters and their sisterly fights while still having that underlying loyalty of love that only siblings share. Then as we get into parts 2 and 3, the book starts to take off.

I'm not a huge fan of his
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Originally published at

In Creatures of Will and Temper, Molly Tanzer gives us an urban fantasy. As long as you don’t mind defining urban as Victorian era London. Alternately, it’s historical fiction with a distinct supernatural twist. Either way, it’s a romp on the wild side of an oh-so-cultured time.

At first I thought the titular creatures were the main characters, Evadne and Dorina. Dorina, a 17-year old art critic wannabe, is headed to her uncle’s London home for a few mon
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was initially interested in the premise but after finishing it, it seems as if it took too long to get going. All of the actual plot relevant events seemed to take place in the last 25% of the book and was good when it happened although it took far too long to get there.

Both of the main characters were almost insufferable which made it difficult to read as well. Evadne being hyper focused on propriety, except when it suited her,and constantly abrasive made it very difficult to. Dorina being s
This book was...odd. I am really having a difficult time summarizing how I feel about this novel. At first it seemed to check off tons of my boxes - London, Victorian age, women breaking from their expected roles, a supernatural element, and a complex sister relationship. I went into this book expecting to devour it and then as for some more. Instead I found myself struggling through the slow first half and considered abandoning it, then speeding through the back half but questioning every chara ...more
All Things Urban Fantasy
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

I finished CREATURES OF WILL AND TEMPER in one day. I must confess I have a particular weakness for Victorian settings, courting, and excessive blushing. Combine that with fencing, demons, and queer characters and you have my very devoted attention. Finishing this novel had me desperately searching for more of Molly Tanzer's work.

Each of the point of view characters in CREATURES OF WILL AND TEMPER is relatable and fleshed out. I felt so deeply for Evadn
Lauren Stoolfire
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Victorian Era London is a wonder that's known for it's fluid social roles, vibrant arts scene, and underground diabolic cults. Evadne Gray, a fencer, isn't interested in those first two and doesn't know about the last, but she finds herself in the city against her wishes to act as a chaperone for her younger sister, Dorina, an aspiring art critic. After Dorina meets their uncle’s friend, Lady Henrietta “Henry” Wotton, an aristocra
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book reminded me of Gail Carriger's series, but instead of how much I find the characters in those books to feel genuine and have a lot of depth, the ones in this book I just could not get behind at all. I found virtually all of them wildly inconsistent throughout the book, or if not, didn't have enough of a character to be consistent or not. I found the worldbuilding and the demons in particular poorly explained. Without clear motivations of the characters and without clear establishment o ...more
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was absolutely phenomenal. It blew my mind in this Picture of Dorian Gray f/f reinterpretation except EVEN BETTER. It's about sisters, standing out, and demons. It features two sisters at the heart of this novel which inspires me to say all sorts of emotional mushy stuff to mine. It's not perfect, constantly surprising you and giving you all the turbulent emotions. This is a must read for anyone who loved The Picture and sisters and demons, and all of these combined!

Disclaimer: I received t
Aug 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
DNF at 30%

I don't have any interest in debating what's immoral in a f/f Dorian Gray retelling but I also have no interest in reading about 17-year-olds dating people in their thirties

Anyway this was seriously boring.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Before I begin my real review, I'm going to do something I've wanted to do for a long time. And that is, I want to compile all the "notes" I took on my Kindle while reading this book. Together, they form a sort-of review, an overall impression of this very strange story. So forgive me for indulging in this experiment! Without further ado, here are the NOTES I took on my Kindle, in order:

his niece

dum dum (as in, an expression of anticipated terror)

I love evadne

she can sense the demon

something to
Nicole Beaudry
Dear Molly Tanzer, I love you. You know this, because halfway through this book, I tweeted at you that you had ruined my life. Having finished the book, that continues to be the case, because Creatures of Will and Temper is phenomenal.

Dorina and Evadne Gray are as little alike as two sisters have ever been. Dorina, flighty and foolish per her elder sister's estimation, is a would-be art critic who longs for something more than their country life, and also she's shamelessly into women. Evadne, i
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, this was very charming. Queer characters in Victorian England with a little demon fun and sword-fighting thrown in? YES PLEASE.

Not sure I understood why the author felt like she needed to include a big author's note about the philosophy behind Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray at the beginning of the book. Based on that, I expected to see a lot more parallels between the two stories, but in the end, Creatures of Will and Temper contains at most a slight nod towards The Picture of Do
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rating 4.5

Oh my, there might come a longer review for this.

If you like character driven plot, paranormal historical, queer rep, some suspense and romance, then...

Nostalgia Reader
3.5 stars.

There are so many things I want to say about this book, but at the same time, I feel like a short and sweet review will do it much more justice.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this when I started reading, but even with the slow build to the action and actual plot, I got sucked into the world and wanted to know more and more about the characters. We focus on two sisters, who are a mish-mash of tropes, but the exact opposite of what their general look would clue you in on. I loved the
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a sort of naughty retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray and Other Writings from an LGBT perspective just didn't work for me. Not badly written, just an idea that never needed to be shown the light of day. It is what it is and some will like it, but one of them won't be me. ...more
Nov 27, 2017 added it
this was strange but delightful. I just love reading about monsters and the supernatural set in a Victorian era. it warms me.

and in the center of all this, are sisters Evadne and Dorina, who on their trip to London to visit their uncle, meet Lady Henry. Dorina is quickly enamored while Evadne gets a bad feeling about her.

... they soon discover a world full of demons and rituals. and these people called diabolist who, in a way, live to serve them.

my only complaint? I wanted to see more demon-w
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

I think how you feel about this book will depend on how much you like historical fiction and also how important it is to you that everything is 'accurate'. I don't read a lot of historical fiction but I do enjoy it on occasion, although really I prefer the writing style to be a bit more modern even on things set in the past. I know I saw a few reviews floating around here complaining that the style was too modern
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Molly Tanzer is the author of the Diabolist’s Library trilogy: Creatures of Will and Temper, the Locus Award-nominated Creatures of Want and Ruin, and Creatures of Charm and Hunger. She is also the author of the weird western Vermilion, an io9 and NPR “Best Book” of 2015, and the British Fantasy Award-nominated collection, A Pretty Mouth, as well as many critically acclaimed short stories. Follow ...more

Other books in the series

Diabolist's Library (3 books)
  • Creatures of Want and Ruin (Diabolist's Library #2)
  • Creatures of Charm and Hunger (Diabolist's Library #3)

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