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Camera Obscura

(The Bookman Histories #2)

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  502 ratings  ·  101 reviews
CAN'T FIND A RATIONAL EXPLANATION TO A MYSTERY? CALL IN THE QUIET COUNCIL. The mysterious and glamorous Lady De Winter is one of their most valuable agents. A despicable murder inside a locked and bolted room on the Rue Morgue in Paris is just the start. This whirlwind adventure will take Milady to the highest and lowest parts of that great city - and cause her to question ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Angry Robot (first published November 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  502 ratings  ·  101 reviews

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Dan Schwent
Apr 03, 2012 rated it liked it
A man is found dead in a locked room on the Rue Morgue, the mysterious object he was transporting cut from his abdomen. Milady de Winter investigates and uncovers a fiendish plot. Can de Winter figure out who killed the man and still retain her sanity?

In this sequel to The Bookman, Lavie Tidhar crafts a steampunk noir tale with many wrinkles. As with the first book, Les Lizardes are in the background the entire time. De Winter follows a trail of clues and battles other agents of The Council
Benjamin Thomas
A locked-room murder occurs on the Rue Morgue in Paris and Lady De Winter, an agent of the Quiet Council investigates. That’s about all the plot I can tell you, not for fear of spoilers, but because of the convoluted nature of it.

The second novel in the “Bookman Histories” trilogy is not a continuation of the plot from the first book at all. While it is obviously set in the same world, with Les Lizardes (a race of alien lizard people) in power in Britain and machines in control of Fr
Megan Baxter
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I feel like this series is developing nicely. The second book feels slightly more accomplished than the first. But two books in, isn't it about time to state clearly what's going on here? It's not a deal-breaker, because I enjoy very much this literary steampunky world, but I've stuck it out for two books. What are Les Lezards? (Yes, it's been broadly hinted at. But I'm ready for answers, not just hints. If something major had been revealed each book, but reserved part of the secrets, that would ...more
Tim Hicks
Nov 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
OK, maybe I should have read The Bookman, and maybe I will.

For the first third of the book, I thought I had a decent steampunk noir going. Not great, but worth reading. And I've read a LOT of steampunk.

Then I started noticing the lack of a copy editor. And I started wondering why no one in late-1800s Paris thinks there's anything unusual about a 6-foot Dahomeyan woman with two guns. Then it occurred to me that a few real-life characters are interesting, but is she going to meet EVERY famous p
May 30, 2011 rated it liked it

Camera Obscura
Liked it.

Didn't love it like The Bookman, but it was kinda fun anyway.

(view spoiler)

The book starts in a Paris with a brothel dominated nightlife
and includes a visit to an alternative future America (view spoiler) ...more
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Camera Obscura is set in the same world as The Bookman, Lavie’s first steampunk novel, the events of The Bookman are mentioned several times in passing and the main storyline takes place some three years later. Although I recommend reading The Bookman first (simply because it is one great Steampunk novel), it is not essential for understanding Camera Obscura. Lavie Tidhar’s latest novel is highly enjoyable on its own.
In Camera Obscura, Lavie continues what he started in The Bookman. Fictio
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, steampunk
Lavie Tidhar gives good setting. His descriptions of a Steampunk Victorian Age, ruled by Lizards, populated with historical and literary minor characters— Sherlock Holmes and his gang, a Lizard Queen Victoria, a nicely creepy Dr. Frankenstein — it’s all done very well. Totally enjoyable.

But does he write good story? Kinda. In The Bookman, the poet Orphan finds himself at the center of a vast conspiracy and is dragged all around the globe, beat up, and almost killed, numerous times. In Camera
Tidhar based this story more on movies than novels for his references, so I missed most of them, but the book was still enjoyable. Milady was a more compelling character than Orphan had been in the first book. And it was more fast-paced and had more action. Not that that means better, it was just a different style for a change. I read one review just now that said that he wrote the same story twice but it didn't seem like that to me. The first book was all about Orphan's personal journey, figuri ...more
Dec 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Camera Obscura (Lavie Tidhar)
Sci-fi/Fantasy. I won this on GR's give-a-ways. I usually do not read this genre, but this book sounded good. I was not sure if this was set in the future, past or present but it is clear that the book spans years. At times it was a bit confusing and there are many characters and bizarre creatures in this story. BUT it did hold my attention , and I found I could not put it down.

Milady De Winter, an ex circus worker, now an agent in the quiet council
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Camera Obscura is another fun action-filled story -- gore-filled, too. Milady De Winter is a more compelling character than Orphan: she seems less wishy-washy. Still, both of them are at the mercy of the plot: they're pawns, being moved by peripheral characters. Which... is a little too obvious to the reader, all along. So I can't say it impresses me or is likely to stick in my mind.

But it's also not to be totally dismissed. It really is fun, and the world Lavie Tidhar has created is biz
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent follow up to the Bookman! So steampunk you won't believe it - masses of fictional and historical figures included in the cast and a kick ass heroine and bad guy. If you liked the Bookman then you'll like this a lot. Tidhar has a lovely trun of phrase from time to time and he keeps the action coming thick and fast. Highly recommended, but read the Bookman first.
May 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: World Fair fans
Recommended to Colleen by: Wendy
Shelves: gym-books
I want to like it much more than I did. Coolest part was all the places/situations the characters found themselves in; I just didn't feel like I really connected with any of them.
Mar 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I got an e-galley of this book through I was drawn to the interesting description and the mysterious title of the book. This was an absolutely fantastic book, but definitely not something everyone will enjoy. Those who like quirky characters and worlds that are gritty and a bit ambiguous will find a lot here to love. Those who like their stories happy with well-defined storylines should probably look elsewhere. I didn't know it when I picked this up but this is the second book in ...more
INTRODUCTION: Before reading The Bookman, I have heard of Lavie Tidhar in connection with his short fiction published in various places, so the fact that I enjoyed quite a lot his debut novel of last year was not surprising. When the second novel in his steampunk alt-history milieu was announced with totally different characters and set mostly in France this time, I was a bit apprehensive since I really liked Orphan and the cast of The Bookman.

"How will the books connect, will the se
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nuns with guns and postulants thereunto
Recommended to Alan by: Shorter works from the author; the buzz around his name; a striking cover
Lavie Tidhar had me hooked from the title of the Prologue to his novel Camera Obscura: "The Emerald Buddha Massacre." How could I not want to read further?

And I was not disappointed. Tidhar's kitchen-sink approach to steampunk means he sometimes stomps gleefully over all credibility—in a world where Queen Victoria, the British Empire's current matriarch, is the green-skinned brood-mother to a dynasty of humanoid lizards, all bets are off—but his stuff's such great fun to read that I could forgive him
J.C. Hart
Apr 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
It’s hard to give this book a clear genre. I think you’d have to call it steampunk, through there is so much else going on as well that it could be any number of other things: science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller.

I was drawn in by the blurb, and the cover, which I just adore. The opening scene is really intriguing, and I was really interested to see where it would go. We’re presented with a problematic crime scene, and intensely interesting character (Milady), and some some kin
Scott Kinkade
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
I have a few problems with an otherwise strong story. First--de Winter is not a very likable character. She callously bullies her way through murder investigations she may or may not even have jurisdiction over. She threatens people, she destroys evidence, and is so intent on getting answers she has the body of one of the murder victims mutilated and forces the dead woman's daughter to look at it to shock her into coughing up what she knows. She never shows any remorse for these actions. Therefo ...more
C.C. Thomas
Jul 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: adult-fiction
One of the many complaints about steampunk from those who dont' like the genre is that they are too dark and retro-futuristic, which is an attention-intensive and sometimes hard read. But that wasn't my complaint with this book. To be brief, it was creepy and I didn't like ti.

MiLady de Winter is a private eye investigating for a mysterious organization. A series of murders leads her to the trail of an ancient object capable of giving the dead new life, or new animation rather. Great
Rod Moser
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Lavie Tidhar shows real talent in describing the setting and establishing the gothic mood of Camera Obscura. Our protagonist, Milady de Winter, arrives on the scene of a recently deceased body found in an apartment and the reader begins his journey with de Winter through Paris, the Mekong River range, to Chicago and the World's Fair.

In a mixture of 'Men in Black' meets 'V' meets 'James Bond' our Milady de Winter is taken from one strange encounter to another in a poorly developed storyline culm
Sep 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, steampunk
Though set in the same alternate steampunk world as The Bookman, this story stands on its own for the most part. This story is set three years after the events portrayed in The Bookman and begins in France. Our protagonist is Milady de Winter, a headstrong operative of the Quiet Council. The Council is sort of an elite police unit though with an agenda of its own. Milady is tasked with investigating a strange murder scene which blossoms into something much bigger and more dangerous.

Although my
Georgiann Hennelly
Dec 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
I usually don,t read this genre. But i won this on Good Reads Giveaways.It starts out set in the past and goes into the future, At times it was a little confusing there are many bizarre creatures and characters. It did hold my interest and i found i really enjoyed the book and couldn,t put it down. Milady De Winter , is an ex circus worker, who is now an agent in the quiet council. She is investigating the death of a man in a locked room. Milady travels many places, over the years to try and fin ...more
Foz Meadows
Apr 11, 2012 marked it as to-read

I think I might be resigning this to the DNF pile. Maybe I'd feel more attachment to the setting and the characters if I'd already read the first book - I didn't realise it was a sequel when I bought it - and there are definitely some cool ideas in play, but ultimately the writing style doesn't work for me. Tidhar's prose is almost exclusively composed of short, sharp sentences, and while his intention is doubtless to create a sense of paciness and urgency, for those of us who automatically in
Sep 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
In The Bookman, Tidhar throws in everything, including the kitchen sink. In this one, he adds the plumbing, shame he forgot to connect it to a water source.

Good ideas, but too much "ain't it cool" based on television and not actual source material for the characters (some of whom are not in character, and some of whom don't make sense in co-existing together).

Worlds need some rules, besides the whole gravity thing.
Catherine Siemann
I didn't love this as much as The Bookman -- while I was happy to see the world of the first novel open out to a broader world that included France, China, and "Vespuccia" (including a visit to the Chicago Exhibition), there wasn't quite as much delight in this one. Milady de Winter was a worthy heroine (even if her wardrobe was more suitable to cyberpunk than steampunk) and there was still a lot of play with characters and imagery, but if felt a little more obligatory this time around. Some int ...more
Angelina Justice
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: steampunk, favorites
This story, like the heroine, hits the ground running and never really slows down until the end.

For the well read and observant this book dangles and splashes names and locales from classic, mostly gothic, literature.

It's not at all a statement of copying or coat-tailing, it's about ingenuity, which Tidhar possesses in spades.

The characters are rich and engaging, even those who only make a short appearance.

The adventure is horrifying, mystifying and begging for you, as
Marsha Nelson
Dec 16, 2010 rated it liked it
It is hard to write a review about this book as I'm not really sure if I understood what it was about. The action bounced from past to future, I think, and from weird characters and freaky characters to various intermingling plots. My favorite part - the Prologue. Since I am not familiar with this genre I will be go easy on the rating and leave it to you to decide for yourself.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read the first part of this trilogy (The Bookman) around a twelvemonth ago and loved it. So finding the second part, Camera Obscura, was a thrill. Reading it, however, was not. I once compared steampunk to an exercise in name dropping, and that is pretty much what I feel Lavie Tidhar's novel does. It does not matter how clever you are in working Victor Frankenstein or Quasimodo into your novel, I feel there has to be more to a book than that. Readers (experienced ones) know the middle part of ...more
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Bookman Histories are an amazing mix of sci-fi, stem punk, alt-history, mystery, fantasy, with a little religious philosophy thrown in. The tone is dark and almost noir. The mystery is tantalizingly dangled just out of view throughout the entire book. The characters are deeply flawed and still likable. In this second in the series, the protagonist is a young woman with a decidedly checkered past. She strides through the story alternately leading the chase and being led by the mysterious mach ...more
Lisa Tollefson
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This guy is good. His style is so very different from anything I've read before.

The Bookman series (this is the second) takes place in a steampunk Victorian time, where the royal family - and in fact, the rulers of many countries - are a lizard race and there are many mechanicals nearly indistinguishable from humans, some of which are the power behind the cit.

He has created a very complex society that's remarkably well thought out. I almost wonder if it really exists and he has some
Heather Rohrer
Camera Obscura is well worth reading because of its intriguing cast of characters and its exciting plot. The strangeness of the world that Tidhar has created brings back pleasant memories of Simon R Green's nightside novels. Overall, Camera Obscura is a great adventure for the reader.
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Lavie Tidhar was raised on a kibbutz in Israel. He has travelled extensively since he was a teenager, living in South Africa, the UK, Laos, and the small island nation of Vanuatu.

Tidhar began publishing with a poetry collection in Hebrew in 1998, but soon moved to fiction, becoming a prolific author of short stories early in the 21st century.

Temporal Spiders, Spatial Webs w

Other books in the series

The Bookman Histories (4 books)
  • The Bookman (The Bookman Histories, #1)
  • The Great Game (The Bookman Histories, #3)
  • The Stoker Memorandum