Thursday, May 28, 2015

Early Critique: "The Shadow Revolution (Crown & Key #1)" by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Disclaimer: I was given a free advanced copy of this book from NetGalley/the publisher (Del Rey Spectra) in exchange for an honest review. My opinion remains as forthright as ever.

To Be Published: June 3rd

The first thing I noticed about this book is it starts off very historical: apparel descriptions, rakish heroes, and social standing mentions are part of the magic of this book. The fun part is when the historical elements (which I happen to love) meet the paranormal/steampunk aspects, and things start happening at a formal Victorian party.

The magic system in this book relies on aether, and is by no means unlimited. There are side effects to using magic- euphoria, and the possibility of eventual exhaustion. One cannot be a magician forever in the world of The Shadow Revolution- something I appreciate in fantasy. Even fantastic elements shouldn't be too fantastic- I'm a fan of realism as much as I am of fantasy.

The Plot: (As Seen on Goodreads)
'They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.
'As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.
 'After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.'

An unusual thing about Kate is that although her 'magic' lies in preparation (alchemy), she isn't shown as less of a player in the events of the book because of it. Oftentimes you'll see 'healers' and other less-action-oriented characters not even be a part of the battle scene, but only the cleanup, but that isn't the case with this book. Kate is just as competent (if not at times more so) than Simon, who's basically the lead character. Simon Archer, bless his wastrel heart, is trying to step away from his playboy image and become a more notable scribe. His rare type of magic, as you might guess, relies on written phrases. Of course, it gets much cooler if I mention those written phrases might be, in fact, tattoos, as the cover depicts.

Beyond the leading characters, there's more personalities to be had, including a woman named Penny Carter who runs the gadget shop which Simon frequents, and the hunter himself, Malcolm MacFarlane. I could wax poetic about the characters some more, but I think most of you get the picture: they're a quirky and infinitely likable group.

I won't expand upon the plot too much, as I'd hate to spoil it, but I'll say this: although it has been done before, I wasn't able to predict the ending, or some of the twists, which I am usually exceptional at decoding before the 60% mark.

The Shadow Revolution is a fun, fast-paced steampunk that also has a grim and shady side. While some elements of the book felt familiar, the characters kept me engaged, and the plot kept me guessing. I recommend this book for those who like steampunk with a strong historical backbone, and aren't afraid of the odd horror-esque element.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for an excellently paced steampunk that kept me reading past my bedtime.

Content: Ages 16+ for violence and extreme medical endeavors.

Page Count: 320 pages

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