Sorcery. Treason. Madness. And, of course, murder most foul . . .
A shattering accident places Archibald Clare, mentath in the service of Britannia, in the care of Emma Bannon, sorceress Prime. Clare needs a measure of calm to repair his faculties of Logic and Reason. Without them, he is not his best. At all.
Unfortunately, calm and rest will not be found. There is a killer hiding in the sorcerous steam-hells of Londinium, murdering poor women of a certain reputation. A handful of frails murdered on cold autumn nights would make no difference . . . but the killings echo in the highest circles, and threaten to bring the Empire down in smoking ruins.
The game is afoot . . .
Sorceress Emma Bannon and mentath Archibald Clare face a truly dastardly foe in their intricate third pseudo-Victorian adventure (after The Red Plague Affair). When the Queen herself comes to ask Bannon to investigate a series of murders in the Whitchapel area, the sorceress reluctantly agrees to come out of her self-imposed retirement. With the ever-faithful Clare aiding her, though he's still recovering from a near-fatal explosion, she delves into the bloody heart of the matter. Together and separately, they learn that a renegade Prime sorcerer has raised a spirit that could undermine the fabric of all Britannia. Part history, part steampunk, laced with magic and a healthy dose of Manners, this fantasy may evoke a certain bloody Jack, but Saintcrow takes as many liberties with that story as she does with the rest of her uniquely fascinating setting. The layers of subtext run deep as the heroes say everything but what's truly on their minds, but at times the complicated dance of emotions and restraint feels too leisurely and indirect.