I can safely say that The Dark Victorian is, to say the least, unconventional It comes loaded with steampunk flavour, quirky characters, situations that border insanity, and layers of horror peppered with light hearted fun.It constantly defies expectations as it travels the deeply rooted image of Victorian England that the reader has in mind To begin with, the main characters are enough to put you in a laughing mood Jim Dastard is a skull Just like that No arms, no body, no flesh Picture him as a washed skull wearing a top hat and smoking a cigar Ah, what a sight to behold With his dashing attitude and his out of this world chit chat, he makes for some funny moments He s in league with another bigger than life character, Artifice, a ghost who has no memory of her original self but who can kick ass like a comic hero They are both living, so to speak, a second life in the service of Queen and country In atonement for a criminal past, it is their mission to chase and neutralise paranormal felons that roam London The first case we encounter is that of reanimated children that attack with rabid and morbid violence those who used to know them A terrible mystery lies behind the motives of both the murderers and the criminal responsible for their evil endeavours.When I started reading this short novel, I was taken aback by the monotone description After three pages, though, it all started to change London comes to life with the author s words, that old city brimming with human cacophony and smells and dark deeds In my opinion, the best assets of The Dark Victorian are three original characters, lively pace with so many stimulating details and a disturbing mystery that makes room for horror, emotion and hilarity Artifice is a physically powerful woman who can be flesh and ghost at will The fact that she doesn t remember her past is a source of mystery that will bloom in subsequent stories On the other hand, Jim is the funny, smart and weird counterpart While both are chasing the criminal, the detective plot is full of action, secrets and terrible acts of violence, but at the same time it s possible to get to know the characters really well I loved the specially tailored clothes that Art wears, and her abilities as a ghost And I loved that she is so sensitive but so strong at the same time London, of course, is a literary trap that s perfect for steampunk mystery seekers. Thank you A Girl Studio and Netgalley for providing this in exchange for an honest review HRH Prince Albert s Secret Commission is a branch of law enforcement full of Raised beings who fight the supernatural during Victorian London The newest member of the commission is Artifice Art She has been paired up with Jim Dastard, a seasoned member of the commission Their first case together involves tracking down and stopping the person responsible for the murderous zombie children that have started plaguing London.Overall, I really enjoyed the book The first 10% or so is a little slow, but then the story picks up steam and keeps right on to the end The zombie children were a nice twist on the Steampunk genre The characters were unique and likable Art can go back and forth from solid to ghost form While she doesn t have her memories from her past life, she kept the traits of her personality that meant the most to her She was a Quaker in her former life and is still very much one Her reluctance to kill the reanimated children, even though they had no qualms about trying to eat her, gave her a real human feel Jim is a talking skull, and by far the funniest character Many of his remarks come from time periods well after the Victorian era, which makes me wonder if there will be a time travel element added later in the series.My only complaint is the story felt too rushed in certain parts This is a short book, only about 130 140 pages, and there was just too much crammed in We have the main story, Art dealing with the everything that comes with just brought back to life, and parts of her past trying to push themselves into her present There were characters or places that had a very brief mention early on, then were brought back for towards the end for important happenings There were a few times where I had to do a search in the book to remind myself who a character was or what a place was If this been a full length novel, or broken up into two 130 page novels, I think this would have been a solid 4 star read One thing that I absolutely loved about this title was the lack of romance I don t mean in a I hate romance kind of way Too many authors add a romance that the story neither needs or or can fit They cram in a story that just feels forced and takes away from the overall enjoyment of the title Watasin must have realized she already had then enough in the title and left the romance for future titles This title did plant the seeds for what could be a likable romance later in the series.I will continue with the series Way Will Open She Is ArtificeA Resurrected Criminal And Agent Of HRH Prince Albert S Secret CommissionAn Artificial GhostA QuakerHe Is Jim DastardThe Oldest Surviving Agent Of The Secret CommissionAn Animated SkullA Mentor To Newly Resurrected AgentsIt Is In A Mechanical And Supernatural London Agents Of Prince Albert S Secret Commission, Their Criminal Pasts Wiped From Their Memories, Are Resurrected To Fight The Eldritch Evils That Threaten England Amidst This Turmoil, Jim Dastard And His New Partner Artifice Must Stop A Re Animationist Raising Murderous Dead Children As Art And Jim Pursue Their Quarry, Art Discovers Clues About Her Past Self, And Through Meeting Various Intriguing Women A Journalist, A Medium, A Prostitute, And A Mysterious Woman In Black Where Her Heart Lies Yet The Question Remains What Sort Of Criminal Was She A New Beginning, A New Identity, And New Dangers Await Art As She Fights For The Secret Commission And For Her Second Life This has to be the most singularly unique book I ve read in a very long time Sapphic story of a paranormal London and a flair for steampunk The author s voice is really really something It really takes some getting used to But once I did I thoroughly enjoyed it Liked it alot Moving on to book 2 The book is titled The Dark Victorian and this is fairly dark at that Watasin creates a pretty cool world of the paranormal set in late Victorian times It s surprised me how quickly I became accustomed to our heroine, Artifice Art , carrying around an animated skull who takes her on her first case Art is a six foot wonder, a lesbian Quaker who is a reanimated criminal now turned agent for the crown.I enjoyed this I wouldn t have minded romance to offset the macabre violence, the darkness of the subject matter, but on the whole, this story is well written and enjoyable The author does not give us an info dump all at once so there were surprises having to do with Artifice spread throughout the story Quickly read, I hope there is depth in the sequel. I don t think I ve read anything quite like this and I think it s going to be a gateway drug for me In essence, this is the story of a rookie secret agent, Art, and her newly assigned mentor, Jim, on the trail of a serial killer However, the setting and the characters are fantastical and extraordinary Art Artifice is an artificial ghost who can take solid or spectral form and was raised from the dead for the purpose of being an agent for Prince Albert s Secret Commission She is assigned to Jim Dastard who is a skull with a hat Their job is to rid England of its supernatural evils.The backdrop is an alternate Victorian era of airships, magic, the paranormal, futuristic retro industrialisation and the dark, grungy alleys of Jack the Ripper s London Most of the descriptions are interwoven with Art and Jim s dialogue as they get to know each other while on the trail of the killer I came to really like Art, who is completely lacking in artifice, for her sense of generosity and remorse Jim is an amazingly full bodied, entertaining character for a skull.This is a world I enjoyed being immersed in and I m looking forward to. March 7 I LOVE this And lucky me, I bought the other books in the series already so I can keep reading about the fabulous Artifice and her partner Jim Dastard Yes, the story was short ish but Elizabeth Watasin did some excellent world building and has left me hungry for I like the cut of her jib April 18 Barely a month later but it was even better the second time reading out loud to my book club buddy D She is totally beguiled by the good Miss Watasin as well now My job is done grin I got a copy courtesy of NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review This novel is quite a short one too short, in fact, for the scope it seemed to want to reach Maybe it s a case of first book in a series syndrome Anyway, I found the premise interesting, but kept wishing it went deeper into some of its aspects, and developed things than it did.The plot felt somewhat muddled, rushing in parts, not really going anywhere in others I m still wondering what exactly it was about A reanimator, sure, and a gallery of other characters that looked like they were introduced for later use mostly, because while they helped with things like clothing, they didn t really do But I didn t exactly feel a sense of urgency, and it was as if some hints and links between events were thrown in, in a disjointed way.The banter between Art and Jim was likeable at times, definitely weird at others, taking space that might have been better used for scenes, plot development Art s way of speaking was also rather quirky, the whole Quaker business leaving me perplexed I didn t understand to which degree it was relevant She seemed like an interesting character enough as it was, with a lot of potential, without the need to add such quirks Maybe reading the sequel would allow me to appreciate them or maybe not I honestly can t tell.I would also have liked to know about this organisation resurrecting criminals while wiping their memories Not in terms of secrets every such organisation needs secrets, to be revealed later , but as in a larger view of its agents Who else was involved How does the Secret Commission operate, since everybody appears to know about it and either respect or fear their badges There s some potential here as well, and I m positive it would have deserved spotlight in this first installment Just a few agents walking around, to make me feel like Jim, Art and Fall weren t the only ones.Art s leaning towards other women was also dealt with a little too strangely to my liking, in that the way it was revealed, the way it unfurled, felt wonky and jarring It s probably a pacing problem than anything else, because I had the same feeling with other scenes, as mentioned above However, it was also good to see it accepted by other characters as something that just happens, something that is Though Jim makes a few quips about it, it s in a friendly way, the same kind of way he comments about other situations.I m not sure I d pick the next book It s a 1.5 for me, leaning towards a 2, because there are intriguing elements about which I d like to learn , so you never know But not if it s as disjointed as in this one. Upping this to 4 stars with the rest of the series getting 5 stars.I had fun re reading this novella this past weekend When I originally read it I wasn t writing reviews and, of course, hadn t read the entire series yet nor was I familiar at all with the fabulous writer Elizabeth Watasin So, I m adding some extra notes to give it its proper due.First off, this is a novella that really is the setup and teaser to a much larger story On my first read through, I was disappointed that it ended so quickly but I didn t understand at the time it wasn t a full novel so that s on me.Also, this story is a bit like stepping off a cliff The combination of Victorian London with paranormal elements with an injection of steampunk, large cast, strange language, and a dark mystery had my head spinning I haven t read anything like it before or since and there s an adjustment period to take in the new world that Watasin creates.The story is mainly told through the point of view of Artifice, a woman brought back to life to become a new agent in the Secret Commission, a branch of law enforcement that deals with paranormal crime The book contains mysteries on numerous levels, one of which is Artifice herself For, you see, the agents of the Secret Commission were all previously criminals in their former lives who met their end at the gallows When the agents are risen, they do not recall any of their history, and the fact that we soon come to realize that Artifice is a kind hearted, pacifist Quaker who is now a crime fighting ghost gives her and us a big question of why and how she came to be.Add that Art s seasoned partner agent is a talking skull in a top hat who speaks in strange lingo, welcome to bizarro world of the best kind.The main feel of the book is a paranormal mystery and Artifice is basically a Victorian super hero In this caper, she and Jim Dastard the skull are on the trail of zombie like children viciously murdering people in the streets of London This is not a romance but the lesfic element comes in from Artifice being a woman loving woman sapphic leadand she s not the lone one in the story.What I also love about Watasin s work, in addition to the crazy imagination, is the breadth of amazingly strong and interesting female characters she writes Though Artifice is the lead, by no means is she the only powerful and intriguing character It s truly a lovely cast If this sounds like something up your alley, take a read and definitely get book two Dark Victorian Bones as, again, this first novella is really just a taste of greater things to come.Love it 3.5 stars I felt like the story was too short but it was really imaginative Another reviewer said it took a little while to get into the groove of how Art spoke, in particular, and I agree with that It s worth sticking with, though I liked the character of Art a lot and the supporting cast I felt the 2nd book in the series was much better but this is a good book to read to get a feel for Art and the world she lives in Recommend reading. I just love Watasin s brain and the characters living in her imagination She is fast becoming one of my favorites In The Dark Victorian Risen, the reader is introduced to Artifice Art , an artificial ghost, and Jim Dastard, a living skull Both were reanimated after death to hunt and fight the wicked evils of 1880s England Sound like fun Because it is Watasin does not mess around with her villains These are not bad guys guilty of petty theft, vandalism, or minor assault They are horrific monsters guilty of crimes so sinister I have no idea how she manages to write these vivid books, while also making her stories utterly charming Perhaps it s because it is all so fantastical part whimsy, part horror I find myself giggling one moment and shocked the next I don t know, but it works and sucks me in every time This was a short story, but it did a great job setting up what comes next Though I have no clue what that is, at the end of this we re given a glimpse of two characters that I think will probably fill out the background story on Art a little and I m excited for it While I can t say this was my favorite Watasin experience because Nico from Monster Stalker still holds those reigns , it was still a really, really good one and I m definitely looking forward to starting the next in the series.
Elizabeth Watasin is the author of the Gothic steampunk series The Dark Victorian, The Elle Black Penny Dreads, the cyberpunk Darquepunk series, and the creator artist of the indie comics series Charm School, which was nominated for a Gaylactic Spectrum Award Winner of a Rainbow Award 2015, Best Lesbian Fantasy and Fantasy Romance, for Medusa A Dark Victorian Penny Dread A twenty year veteran o
- The Dark Victorian
- Elizabeth Watasin
- 07 February 2017 Elizabeth Watasin