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.
Praise for The Shadow Revolution
“Team Griffith creates a number of really compelling characters whose exploits will keep readers glued to the pages! Terrific!”—RT Book Reviews
“A fast-paced, action-filled dark fantasy that is just sheer fun to read . . . The Shadow Revolution kicks off the Crown & Key series in spectacular fashion!”—Fresh Fiction
“Werewolves, mad science, and plenty of smiting. Pass the popcorn.”—Emma Jane Holloway, author of The Baskerville Affair series
"A thrilling read! Clay and Susan Griffith have crafted a gritty, action-packed Victorian-era fantasy world full of dark creatures, mystery, and magic—a must read for steampunk fans!”—Shawntelle Madison, author of the Coveted series
“What happens when you kick off a new urban fantasy series with a fantastic setting and unique characters, and you throw in some dangerous, supernatural creatures, evil madmen, murder and mayhem? You get a kick-ass book to read. . . . I want more, please!”—Book Swoon
“If summer blockbuster action movies existed back in the Victorian era, they would look a lot like The Shadow Revolution. This book doesn’t mess around. . . . Highly recommended.”—The BiblioSanctum
“One hell of a read . . . [With] unforgettable characters and magic around every bend, this truly was a breath of fresh air.”—My Guilty Obsession
“The story is pretty fast-paced, the mystery intriguing and refreshingly surprising, and the action thrilling. [The Shadow Revolution] pulls you in and barely lets you up for air, and I love the intensity of that kind of storytelling.”—Refracted Light
“So good that I won’t be surprised if this book series is opted to be a TV show or movie with an accompanying video game! Great storytelling, great plot and most of all great book!”—Marienela
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
A bold moon hung over the dark London cityscape. A shroud of fog obscured the ever-present grime as yellow smudges of gas lamps created black silhouettes of the skyline. London showed its hidden nature only at night. People moved like wraiths, appearing out of nowhere, shades made suddenly solid.
The misty moonlight gave the city an otherworldly aspect in which Simon Archer reveled. He nodded amiably to passersby, but his senses were tuned to the indistinguishable world around him, listening, feeling for a shred of anything out of place.
“Do you know where you’re going, Simon?” Nick Barker grumbled. “We do have important business we could see to. Or we could head to the pub for a pint.”
Simon twirled a gold key on a chain attached to his waistcoat. “You didn’t have to come.”
“Of course I did. What kind of a friend and mentor would I be if I went drinking without you?”
“What kind, indeed. Her note sounded urgent, but don’t worry, we won’t be away from the hunt for long.” Simon then intoned in a stage profundo, “Something hungry moves in the shadows of our fair city. We’ve heard it whispered in and out of every tavern. And we are the men to put an end to it.”
Simon arched an amused eyebrow. His dark hair, just slightly longer than was permissible in polite society, fell rakishly over his high forehead but did not cover his piercing green eyes. Sideburns slipped down to just above his jawline toward the curve of his lips, giving him a permanent sardonic expression. He wore simple tweed trousers with a somewhat threadbare coat, not his normal attire but one that would allow him to blend in among the locals of St. Giles Parish. Even so, he looked more fashionable than the shorter, stockier man walking beside him.
“So who’s this old friend of yours we’re meeting?” Nick asked. “Do I know her?” The man possessed the build of a common brawler and the sartorial tastes of one. Likely once a very handsome young man, Nick had creases born of time and experience as well as unshaven stubble, which made him appear somewhere over forty years old. His brown hair was short and ruffled, kept without care. Nick struggled to keep up with Simon’s purposeful long strides as they threaded their way into the wretched Rookery.
“She was from before I met you. Just after my mother died—God rest her soul—when I first came to London.” Simon couldn’t help the flicker of pain that crossed his sharp angular features even after so long. “Marie d’Angouleme was a . . . an actress of some repute back then.” He sighed at the memory.
“Marie d’Angouleme.” Nick whistled in appreciation. “You knew her? I saw her once at a party. Good Lord, why would you stray from that woman?”
“I didn’t. She left me.”
“She left you? But you’re Simon Archer, London’s greatest gentleman of leisure!” Nick grasped his chest in mock surprise.
Simon flashed a grin that blazed in the darkness. “I wasn’t London’s great gentleman then. I was a boy from Bedfordshire with no great place or purpose.”
“And now suddenly she wants to meet with you again?” Nick gave a suspicious frown. “In this parish? After how many years?”
“Six or seven. I owe her a bit of my time. She was kind to a chap new to the city.”
“She was kind because you paid her way. You, my friend, have never been able to tell the difference between genuine kindness and deception.”
Simon tsked. “Sincerity can’t be faked, only deceit.”
The two men ventured deep into the wretched Rookery. They passed blocks of condemned structures pressed together and rows of tenements in such disrepair that planks of wood were used to hold up their dilapidated sides. Glassless windows were boarded up or stuffed with rags and newspapers. The streets were full of garbage and human offal. The stench was strong. The air was pitch-black in the narrow confines. This area enjoyed its shadows.
Among the ruins stood a female figure.
Enough faint light filtered from shaded windows and closed doors to illuminate her. She looked smaller and so much older than Simon remembered, and it struck him hard. Years ago she had been adorned with grand jewels and opulent fabrics, and yet even those had barely been able to hold in her audacious and flamboyant manner. Now her garments were gaudy rags of torn lace and soiled silk. When her pale eyes alighted on his form, she must have seen the shock in his expression because she pulled her shabby cloak tighter, concealing her embarrassing attire.
“Beatrice.” Simon smiled at her.
A frail laugh slipped from garishly painted lips. “You remembered.”
“You’re the only man who ever called me by my real name.” Despite her gratitude, she glanced nervously at the darkness surrounding them.
Simon laid a gentle kiss on her pockmarked cheek, which had once been porcelain. He gestured to the man behind him. “May I introduce Nick Barker, a good friend. Nick, this is Marie d’Angouleme, grand duchess of the theater, queen of the West End, and thief of my heart.”
Her features relaxed in friendly greeting, but there was unease in her eyes, the mark of a woman betrayed too often by sweet words and hasty promises. Her hand plucked at Simon’s sleeve. It lingered on the material with practiced intent. “This doesn’t seem your usual attire. Dressing for the neighborhood?”
“You might say that.” He studied the even more shabby condition of the former demimondaine. It seemed incredible, as if she were dressed for a part in a play. “What happened, Beatrice? How did you come to this? You had everything.”
“Yes, I did once,” she said wistfully, regarding his tall frame. “But a wrong turn here, a twist of fate there.”
“What about your magic?” Simon asked. He noticed her worried gaze dart to Nick, but he gave her a reassuring nod. “You were quite skilled.”
Beatrice shrugged with a wan smile before stepping back into the shadows once more. “As with all things in my life, I made missteps there too.”
“You should have come to me earlier.” He reached into his coat. “How much do you need?”
“Jesus God, Simon.” She glared at him in anger. “I’m not asking you for money.”
Annoyed, Nick demanded, “What is it you want if not that?”
Ignoring the accusatory barb, her hand alighted on Simon’s chest, her finger tracing a strange symbol on his shirt. She actually shivered although Simon didn’t think it had anything to do with the cold. Her skin turned abruptly pale beneath the cheap rouge. “I have a . . . customer. An aristocrat named Lord Oakham. Do you know him?”
“I’ve heard the name,” Simon replied.
“He isn’t a regular, but not a stranger either. I was with him last night and, afterward, I saw him fall into an argument with another man on the street not far from here. About what I do not know. But I saw . . .” Beatrice faltered, fear overwhelming her countenance. Her shuddering grew worse, her voice lowering.
Simon brushed a soothing hand across her forearm. “What is it, Beatrice? I will help you if I can.”
She steeled herself with the same determination that Simon had seen her use before stepping out alone onto the stage. “I saw him transform into a beast and slaughter that man.”
“You saw Lord Oakham murder a man?”
Beatrice shook her head violently. “No. Just what I said. One moment, he was a lord and the next he wasn’t. He changed his shape, Simon. He became a monster.” Her eyes rose to meet his. “Do you believe me? I wasn’t drunk. Nor am I now.”
“Have you seen him since?”
“No, but it’s worse,” Beatrice stammered. “Lord Oakham saw me witness the event.”
“Are you sure?”
Simon struck a cavalier pose. “Well, let’s simply shift you away from here. I would take it a kindness if you would stay at my home at Gaunt Lane for as long as you need.”
Beatrice paused, looking at his face for signs of hesitation, but there were none. Even so, she shook her head. “Dear Simon, I don’t fear for my own life. But someone should know. Someone who I hoped could do something. I thought of you.”
Without warning, a huge shape fell among them, bearing Beatrice hard to the ground and batting Simon and Nick roughly to the side. A massive animal snapped its long jaws and clamped onto Beatrice. Her terrified scream lay heavy in the fog. Simon scrambled to his feet, but he wasn’t fast enough to stop the great beast as it twisted its head and ripped through the woman’s shoulder.
“No!” Simon screamed.
A menacing growl rolled loud, hammering the men’s ears as a pair of red eyes punctured the black veil of night. The creature rose on canine hind legs, tall and loose-limbed, to a height of eight feet. Its snout was almost the length of Simon’s forearm. Saliva and blood dripped through the long sharp teeth in its open jaws. The stench of blood mingled with the distinctive musk of wet fur. The hair on Simon’s arms rose as his breathing deepened and energy flooded his body.
“Damnation,” muttered Nick. Then he snapped his fingers. A flicker of flame sprouted from his fingertips, lighting the gloom. “Don’t rush in. Don’t be stupid.”
“It killed her!” Simon yelled.
“It’ll kill us too unless we keep our wits.” Nick pulled his friend a step away. “That’s a werewolf, in case you didn’t know.”
Simon shrugged off the man’s hand. Where sensible men would have run, Simon strode toward the menacing shape. His leather shoes squished with each step in the garbage-strewn lane. He uttered a single word that was not English and brought his hands together, stiff-armed, in a sharp clap. Thunder crashed. The hulking beast was blasted back, slamming into the bricks behind it. The force left a deep crater in the wall.
With bricks clattering around it, the thing gathered its long limbs and stood, growling. The rank stench of rotting flesh washed over Simon, but he didn’t hesitate, moving closer to the shadowy beast.
Nick came up on the left, forcing the werewolf to choose between them. The older man slapped his palm onto a nearby wall and the flames on his hand transferred to the spot on the bricks where it stayed, offering light in the dark alley.
“Steady,” Nick breathed, casually placing his hands in his pockets.
Simon had already selected the spells he needed to cast.
The werewolf’s head swiveled as if debating which to strike first. Its frustration erupted in a violent roar that flecked spittle across the alley, striking both men. Neither flinched. The creature turned to Simon and stepped forward.
“Now,” Simon shouted, as the werewolf drew close.
Nick’s hands flew from his pockets and balls of fire shot from his palms. Two flaming orbs splashed against the werewolf’s massive chest. It howled in pain; its fur and flesh were seared in a wash of fire.
The enraged werewolf lunged. The snap of teeth came within a hairsbreadth of Simon’s face as he flung himself back. He kicked out, connecting with the snapping jaw, striking it to the side, spraying blood.
“Again!” Simon commanded, scrambling to his feet.
Nick let loose another barrage of fireballs, while Simon grabbed a thick wooden beam from the side of a building and smashed it over the head of the beast. Its howl of pain became a shout of fury.
It leapt and landed beside Simon. He swung the beam again and it splintered across the werewolf’s smoldering arm and chest, shattering into wood pulp. The creature towered over him, its arm lifted for a killing blow.
Nick grabbed the werewolf’s throat and his hand burst into blue-hot fire. With an agonized howl, a hairy arm swung wildly and slammed Nick’s shoulder, sending his limp body flying amidst the debris. Then the creature lunged after him.
Simon seized the beast’s hind leg and his fingers dug deep into the bristly fur. When he whispered a druidic phrase, the huge werewolf jerked to a halt. It glanced furiously over its shoulder, so Simon heaved it off its clawed feet and threw it to the side as if it were a spent rag. It crashed into a heap ten feet away.
The massive wolf head swiveled toward Simon for a moment but then opted for easier prey, turning again for Nick. Simon slapped his hands together. The deafening crack filled the alley and sent the beast careening into a spin. It dropped to all fours and clawed for purchase, leaving deep gouges in the cobblestones. Simon knelt and slammed his hand to the ground. A whispered word sent a wave of power shaking through his arm, as if it would snap the bones, before it passed into the earth. He wrenched his hand from the powerful grip of the ground, cutting off the power.
A cascading shock wave rumbled toward the werewolf. The monster tried to leap away but lost its footing and fell. The wave tore past and hit the side of a building. Bricks cracked and groaned. Then with a shudder, as the great beast was rising, the wall collapsed on top of it in a shower of stone and dust.
For a moment, Simon thought the fight over and moved toward Nick, but the sound of shifting rubble made Simon turn. The werewolf rose from the mound of stone, its fur a smear of blood and dust. It sprang with horrifying speed at Simon, knocking him down. The back of the man’s head struck something hard. He heard Nick shouting. The foul breath of the beast gagged him. He was inches from the salivating jaws.
A shadowy figure fell from the heavens. There was a whistle of steel and the werewolf reared up with a shriek. Simon caught a glimpse of a man clad in black, wielding a long claymore one-handed. The beast clutched its side, blood spewing between gnarled fingers. It cowered from the new figure, showing fear for the first time. Then it leapt away into the darkness.
“That’s right, you cur!” The man in black fired a heavy weapon that sounded like a cannon at the creature’s fleeting form. The firearm was a heavy pistol with four barrels. Amazingly, it let out a whisper of steam as the smoking barrel rotated away from the breech and a fresh one clicked into place. “You know me now, don’t you?”
Simon came to his feet, shaking the last of his vertigo aside with the determination of a bear. His coat was in ruins, but he was largely unscathed. He felt a slight tremble in his legs; the magic had left him weak, but he felt a rush of relief at being alive. He clapped a grateful hand onto the newcomer’s shoulder. “You came in the nick of time, sir.”
“Shut it!” snapped the sharp retort in a thick Scottish brogue, and the man brushed Simon’s friendly gesture aside. “You came to a werewolf fight without silver. I’ve been tracking that beast for days. I won’t have you two mucking things up with your petty sorcery. That beastie belongs to me, and me alone!” Then he was gone, racing on the trail of the bleeding beast.
Simon stared after the Scotsman for a brief moment, but then he turned and ran for Beatrice, shouting to Nick as he passed, “Are you all right?”
“Right as rain.” Nick rolled his shoulder with a wince of pain.
Simon fell to his knees in the blood. Beatrice’s brutalized body was splayed on the cobblestones amidst the refuse, twisted like copper wire, clothes shredded. He slid his hands under her. She coughed weakly and her eyes opened. Simon shouted, “Nick! Quickly.”
The other man was at his side already. He squatted and put a hand on Beatrice’s forehead. “She’s nearly gone.”
“Then stop talking,” Simon cried, “and help her.”
Nick concentrated on the woman’s face. He breathed heavily and closed his eyes. Beatrice jerked and cried out in pain. She reached up a red hand and took hold of Nick’s wrist, trying to wrench it from her head.
“Stop,” she whispered.
“No, Beatrice,” Simon soothed. “Nick has some vivimancy. He can help you.”
“Don’t.” She looked up at Simon. “Don’t.”
“Yes.” Simon tried to pull her hand from Nick’s arm.
“She’s right, Simon,” Nick said. “I can’t do her any good.”
“What do you mean?” Simon asked sharply. “You’ve got the power. Use it.”
Beatrice touched Simon’s cheek. “Aether is killing me. I abused it for so long. I’ll die soon anyway. You can’t save me. Just let me go.”
“No,” Simon argued. “Just let Nick get you balanced. Then you’ll come to my home and I’ll care for you. I can come up with something.”
“Simon, please.” She smiled with bloody teeth. “There’s nothing you can do.”
“She’s right, old boy.” Nick took his hands away from her. “You’re overstimulated by your own aether, but try to see it straight.”
“No!” Simon shouted, glaring angrily at Nick.
Beatrice murmured, “I’m glad I saw you again, Simon. You’re exactly the same as you were.” A strange look of sadness and disappointment passed over her face, then all emotion departed, leaving only waxy flesh. She went limp under his hands.
Simon squeezed her cool hand. “Damn it.”
“She was eaten up, Simon. The aether was in every part of her. She should’ve been dead months ago.” Nick stood. “But at least she gave us Lord Oakham. If we can find him again.”
Simon’s voice was brittle. “I know where we can find him. We’ll see to Beatrice first.” He placed her hands gently on her chest.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Tons of action and awesome magic, but a little too gruesome for me. This book took me longer than I expected since I couldn't read it at night. (Nightmares) It's rather violent, gruesome, and has scary monsters. (Although I am a wuss.) At the beginning some of the lines were so over the top I couldn't tell if the authors were serious, (Grins that blazed in the darkness, and striking cavalier poses) but the writing quickly improved. Simon's a party boy, and a womanizer, and at first I couldn't stand him, but over the course of the book he grew on me. Malcolm said it best: "Once I thought little of you, but I was wrong. You are an honorable man, and while there are times I would as soon throw you through that window, I’d stand with you if you need me." Kate's fiery and strong, and exactly my kind of heroine. I wasn't sure about her judgment, being attracted to Simon and all, but she proves herself to be a smart woman. My favorite character was Simon's best friend Nick. He's a slob who would rather use magic to change his appearance than dress up and he always calls Simon on his failings. I wish he had a point of view too! He's a much needed bit of comic relief. Malcolm the solemn werewolf hunter and Penny the spunky mechanic were also nice additions. Simon's potentially the last scribe, and uses runes to invoke magic. Nick's a jack of all trades when it comes to magic and is Simon's teacher. Kate practices alchemy, but despite her father's vast travels, she's never encountered magic before. If you ask me, magic needs limits. Those limits were unique here, as Simon acts drunk when he's used too much magic! There wasn't much mystery, but I didn't have a clue what the villains were up to. (And still mostly don't) I prefer a little more story with my action, but the action well done so I can't complain. All three books of this trilogy come out in the month of June! I probably should've rated this higher, but the gruesomeness was a bit much for me. Point of View: Third (Simon, Kate, Gretta, Malcolm) Predictability: 3 out of 5 (Where 1 is totally unpredictable and 5 is I knew what was going to happen way ahead of time.) My Summary: A werewolf is loose in London and Simon, a magician and playboy, is after it for personal reasons. Kate, the daughter of a rich adventurer, intends to discover what's been done to her sister.
Maybe my expectations are too high as I just finished Mark Hodder's 'Burton & Swinburne' series which was just phenomenal. I found this & thought I'd give it a go. The premise is great, love the characters right off the bat, interesting blend of genres I love, so that's what hooked me. My only complaint is that the action/fight scenarios are plentiful & described in great detail. Not that it's a bad thing, I just felt that the author could have spent time better fleshing out the really mysterious bits of the story because that's what kept my brain engaged. I am currently reading the next in the series & looking forward to completing the trilogy. If you are a fan of steampunk, horror, fantasy/magic, or supernatural historical fiction, you can't go wrong with this quick read.
There's decent story here and a potential for some truly wondrous magic but it's buried within pages and pages and PAGES of blow by blow fight scenes as the characters struggle toward the next goal. I found myself flipping pages to get back to the story and wondering if perhaps the authors were paid by the word. The target audience seems to be younger teenage boys. I would not recommend this because, although the characters all seem quite bright, they routinely choose fists over wits. All that said, it wasn't a bad Sunday afternoon read.
This first in the Crown & Key trilogy follows Simon Archer, a powerful sorcerer known as a scribe, and Kate Anstruther, an accomplished and knowledgeable alchemist, as they struggle to fight a rising evil in an alternative Victorian London. The two are accompanied by Simon's long-time friend and mentor, Nick Barker, and a Scottish monster hunter named Malcolm McFarlane in their fight, and as a result we see a colorful motley crew of heroes against a centuries-old werewolf and her army of wolves. I LOVED this book! The protagonists are brilliant and distinct while the villains are evil and loathsome, which results the reader being more emotionally invested in the heroes' quest. While the steampunk element is rather weak, the magic and the plot itself more than make up for it. The fast-paced storyline will keep you gripped until the very end, and when you finally read the last sentence, you will be craving the sequel; I know I am! A fantastic beginning to what is sure to be an equally amazing trilogy!
The characters somewhat remind me of those from Cassandra Clare's "The Infernal Devices" trilogy, and the overall concept of the story brings to mind the Order 1886 video game. A Sir Galahad-like main guy, a strong and just as badass main girl, and the main guy's sidekick who is getting quite tired of his shenanigans. And there are werewolves. There's nothing too thought-provoking in this novel; it's pretty much written only for entertainment purposes. I'm used to graphic violence in general so it didn't bother me much in the book. Actually I don't think it's as gruesome as people are saying it is. Clay and Susan Griffith make a great team when it comes to storytelling. Though there was nothing too memorable, yet nothing too boring or overused either. Overall, The Shadow Revolution is a good read and a nice way to pass the time. I finished it in 2 days, though I don't think I will be continuing with the rest of the trilogy.
Main characters: I really like Simon and Kate. They seem to work well together and respect each other’s skills. It’s refreshing to see a male character in an Urban Fantasy setting who doesn’t first try to be overprotective with a female. But right from the beginning Simon is fascinated with Kate’s abilities, especially her physical prowess. After this first book, I don’t feel as if I know Malcolm or Penny well enough to comment on them as main characters, but I’m looking forward to getting to know them better in the upcoming books. Other characters: Dr. White is your standard megalomaniac mad scientist, and there’s not much more depth to him. But he serves his purpose. I would’ve liked to known more about Gretta and the werewolves. I’m very glad, though, that Charlotte has joined the group. Perhaps we’ll learn more about the wolves through her. Hogarth has to have an interesting back story; I hope we learned this in subsequent books, too. Nick is an interesting character who sometimes plays the coward and sometimes plays the warrior. I’d be curious to learn more about him as a young man. Though they technically aren’t characters in the book, I would really like to learn more about Kate’s and Simon’s parents. It sounds like there could be many interesting stories with them. World: Knowing this is the first of three books published within a short time frame, I can be at patient; but, if this were a standalone book, I would be more frustrated with the world building. There is so much that we didn’t learn – about the Order of the Oak, about the time of Simon’s parents, about scribes and magic in general, or about the culture of the werewolves. We also didn’t find out what Simon’s key is for or how his mother came to possess one of Kate’s father’s artifacts. However, we did learn that magic exists, that werewolves exist, that mad scientists exist, and that the world is very dangerous. Story: In an attempt to establish his own self-worth, Simon Archer assists a virtual stranger, Kate Anstruther, in retrieving her sister from the clutches of a madman. The madman has ties to a werewolf and a crazy doctor who in turn have ties back to Simon’s and Kate’s parents. A werewolf hunter, a weapons inventor, a reluctant magician, and a werewolf child also join the party. Steampunk shenanigans ensue. Overall: While I can’t claim this is a particularly original story, I will say that I enjoyed it. I think there is a lot of information left out about the world itself and the system of magic that I hope we learn in the next books. I enjoyed the characters very much and the relationships being built among them. I would certainly suggest this book for any fan of steampunk fantasy. Copy provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. Review courtesy of onebooktwo.com | one book, two reviews.
I received a free copy of this through Netgalley. I decided to request this after reading the Watchmaker of Filigree street because it reawakened my taste for steampunk. While this book is completely a different animal, I still enjoyed it. This is a fun read. The action moves the story along very quickly. This book definitely has the feel of an urban fantasy (if not the correct time period for it). I have mostly lost my desire to read urban fantasy after the absolute flood of smut-fest urban fantasy that has been published over the years, but I will be making an exception for this series. It starts out light, but gets some teeth for sure later on. All the while it keeps the quality up and doesn't go low brow, which I appreciate immensely. The characters were pretty well done and relatable. I also liked how they maintained the steampunk feel throughout the story. There is a feel of history to the world, even if we didn't get to delve too deep into it in this book. Highly recommended for fans of steampunk and urban fantasy (the Iron Druid comparisons are fair imho).
The Shadow Revolutions delves deep into a dreary steampunk Victorian London where werewolves, demigods, monsters, magic and mayhem are running a mock. Simon Archer, spell-casting scribe, Kate Anstuther, Alchemist and genius, and Malcolm MacFarlane, monster hunter,have taken on the battle to defeat the evil that has infiltrated England. The story holds a dark and sinister feel even while the rag tag team shuffles through the niceties of society. Unlikely allies and even more unusual family dynamic is formed creating marvelous character interactions. Even though each character has made rash decision, the family like unit rallies together to fix the problem. This was a story I could really dive into and not want to come up until I was done. Pack full of originality, The Shadow Revolution is a highly imaginative plot. I especially enjoyed the powerful roles of the ladies in this adventure. I found this to be a great adventure and would highly recommend this story to any steampunk fantasy fan. I received this ARC copy of The Shadow Revolution from Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra in exchange for a honest review.
The cover caught my eye and then I read the blurb and then I grabbed this one up eagerly. Steampunk paranormal, historicals with paranormal elements, historical urban fantasies are where it's at with me. This was the start of a new series by new to be authors so I eagerly dove into this dark, gritty tale that both sets up the trilogy and offers an intriguing story that in the end has a 'The Island of Dr. Moreau' vibe going on. It offers elements of Steampunk and Urban Fantasy with a hint of romance though the focus is on the group as a whole and their mission to stop a dangerous plot. The story revolves around 'rake about town' and secret magic user, Simon Archer. Simon is going about, business as usual, when he encounters a woman from his past. She asks for his help, but then is killed by a werewolf before his very eyes. A werewolf hunter, Malcolm McFarlane, appearing at the right time is the only thing that kept him and his fellow magic user alive. This is a wake up call for Simon. He has gotten lazy in pursuing his magic education and in his purpose. He was already concentrating on hunting down the whispers about something powerful and dark stirring in the underbelly of London. Now he has something more immediate on his mind. Revenge. Kate Anstruther, daughter of the famous world explorer and alchemist researcher, is at wit's end when it comes to her sister and the cad trying to court her. Talking sense into her sister does nothing so therefore, she'll have to get this shady Colonel out of their lives. At a society evening affair while in pursuit of her sister's unwelcome admirer, she crosses paths with Simon Archer and discovers there is quite a bit to the world that she hadn't know of up to this point when she helps slay a werewolf and sees Simon and his friend use magic to do it. She hopes to forget the whole thing and pretend it didn't happen particularly with a man with a reputation involved, but soon after, her sister disappears to be with the Colonel and Kate's only recourse is to get Simon's help. From there, they discover that her sister is part of a great plot and it takes, Kate, Simon, Malcolm, and a small band of others to fight against the danger and keep her sister safe. They are all more than they seem and it takes them working as a team to defeat a formidable opponent. And in the end one makes the ultimate sacrifice. This story jumped in and paced forward fast and steady with exciting, breathtaking moments in between. This is very much an action-driven piece, but the characters are not neglected. Each has a backstory and a chance to grow. Simon and Kate are the main players, but others like Malcolm, Nick and the inventor gal (whom I can't recall her name) have large secondary roles. The focus of the story is on Simon as he comes into his own as a magic wielder, a leader, and a man who can be respected. There is a whiff of romance, but just that as this story didn't lean that way though I can see it developing especially after that big scene of sacrifice near the end. Things get brutal in parts and there is a total mad-scientist laboratory part that was horrific though thankfully it wasn't so much gory description as my own imagination filling things in. The mystery element was captivating. I enjoyed following along as they tried to track down who was behind things and why. There is foreshadowing to an even bigger intrigue building beyond their view. I love that feeling that there is more coming. The steampunk is a noticeable element, but doesn't hold a place in the forefront. There are gadgets and alchemy involved and it was fun that it was the ladies who were the scientists and inventors on team Simon. Okay, well, one of the villains, but he doesn't count since he was team bad guy. The more noticeable blended element was the paranormal. This is an interesting paranormal world and I get the distinct impression that there are more reveals to come on that score as things progress. At the moment, magic-wielders and werewolves are involved. Simon is known as a 'Scribe' and possibly the last of his kind of magic user. He powers his spells by writing runes on any surface and he has permanent rune spells tattooed into his skin that are like quick spells. I appreciated that magic has a cost and has to be treated with respect in this world. The users grow fatigued and some magic, like what Nick wields, can take something out of a person. So, all in all, this was a great start to the trilogy and I look forward to more of this group particularly Simon. As to recommendations, Historical Paranormal Romance and Steampunk lovers might want to give this one a go. My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
I am incredibly picky when it comes to anything "historical", and this includes steampunk. Way too often an author gets too bogged down in the minutia of the Victorian/Regency/whatever era, that the story gets lost. At least for me. I want snappy, spunky dialogue. I want action sequences (even if that action is just two characters having a moment.) Basically, stuff needs to be happening to keep my attention. I could care two figs less about the cut/type/style of their clothing/food/furniture/etc. I really don't care how well they researched the period to make sure that the amount of decolletage is proper or how the cravat is tied is accurate. I don't care. Yada, Yada. Move it along. That is what was so awesome about this book. There was some brief descriptions of clothing, but they went more towards, okay, so she's wearing pants and an apron because she was busy creating awesome steam-powered weapons in the back of her shop. Or, he his glamour hid the fact that he was dressed as some rough lower class while at this high society event. You know, it set the scene and moved on. And there was plenty of moving on. There were multiple fight scenes in this book, as well as stuff blowing up, and even a "car chase" that had to be read to believed. The imagery of the werewolves changing shape and the pale homunculus creatures, were brought to life in my imagination. I loved the creativity in the steam powered creations too. And the icing on the cake? The females got to kick some butt too. They weren't some delicate flowers, wilting while the males did all the work. Again, happy times for me as I love strong female characters. To be honest, as soon as I finished this book, I went and requested the next two books in the trilogy, The Undying Legion and The Conquering Dark. They will be coming out at the ends of June and July. So no long waits for the next book to arrive. Yeah! Overall, I was simply thrilled with this book and though I waffled between a 4 and 5 star rating, I felt like I didn't fully connect with the characters yet, so 4 it is. I am hopeful the next book will earn that last star. Thanks to Netgalley and Del Ray for the opportunity to read and review the book.
Welcome to Victorian London, home of steampunk, alchemy, spell casters, and werewolves on the prowl. No one is safe and few are able to fight the vile evil and transformation their bites will bring. An unlikely alliance must be formed to combat the beasts, who have already made victims of the brilliant Kate Anstruther’s sisters. Will the strength and determination of a true hunter be needed to end this overpowering threat? Will magic prevail or will every piece of silver in London be needed to concoct both a cure and a weapon? The Shadow Revolution by Clay and Susan Griffith brings together the feel of a foggy night in London, the mist chilling the reader to the bone, while injecting a touch of the fabled Sherlock Holmes as answers must be sought out. This writing duo has created a warp in time that takes us back to an alternate reality, dresses us in period costume and places in the thick of the brainstorming, fear, and sometimes awkward moments as the battle of good versus evil is waged from both the laboratory and the streets of London. There is nothing better than being lost in a tale of great imagination and daring when an author seems to create an atmosphere and cast of characters that fit the era, while being slightly ahead of their times. Brilliant and strong leading ladies, quirky, yet good-hearted male leads, and enough action and mystery to make returning to the twenty-first century almost regrettable! I received this ARC edition from Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra in exchange for my honest review.
I unfortunately approached this book with high expectations due to one word in the description: Victorian . This book is not set in the Victorian Era. Very little of it is Victorian. None of the character POVs felt like they had a Victorian POV or showed a concious rejection of Victorian values. The Prime Minister and wife showed up briefly but they were given names that never belonged to an English prime Minister and wife.. If blatant liberties are taken with history you need to offer an imaginary event that changes the course of history. I am not big on the details but if you use the word Victorian, you need to make it feel Victorian. I probably would have given the story a better chance, if it had said the setting was a Victorianesque England.