Genre: Steampunk, adventure, young adult, fantasy
A couple of months after Rory and Longinus saved the Old Girl, they’re trying to settle into the honest life of being in her employ. Unfortunately, Rory is bored with nothing to steal, and Longinus finds living in Cruikshank’s workshop insufferable, what with the sub-par coffee and lack of suitable clothing.
When an old friend of Rory’s is found exsanguinated, Rory and Longinus fear that Myran has returned. To make matters more delicate, an important diplomat is visiting Damsport, and her death would make the city vulnerable to attack from Airnia, so the Old Girl tasks Rory and Longinus with uncovering and stopping whatever is going on.
As they investigate, clues lead them to the Black Orchid, a new brothel in town where the clientele has a tendency to vanish. But when the diplomat’s bodyguard is found dead outside the Black Orchid, Rory and Longinus find themselves framed as the masterminds behind the whole operation. To clear their names and save the city, they’ll have to solve the mystery of the Black Orchid before Myran catches up to them.
Living an honest life turned out to be far more complicated than they’d expected.
Second in The Viper and The Urchin series (you can read my review of The Bloodless Assassin here), though can easily be read as a standalone, this was steampunk at its best. There was intrigue, adventure, mystery, alchemy, and a dash of romance.
Rory and Longinus are bored living an honest life. But when an old friend of Rory’s from her urchin days turns up exsanguinated, Rory and Longinus set off to investigate, through the poverty and illegality of the Rookery, to the opulence of The Mansion and its inhabitants and visiting diplomats, to the brothels of Bayog. And everything keeps leading back to The Black Orchid…
Wow. The plot had me turning (OK, swiping) the pages as quickly as my reading would allow (I think I forgot to eat dinner at one point. What day of the week is it?). The characterisation, too, was so wonderfully written, with the characters interacting and growing as the book progressed. There was pace and immersive setting and… Just read it – it’s brilliant.
*I received a free copy from the author, via Rosie’s Book Review Team, in exchange for my honest review.