This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“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.”
There was a lot to like about this novel. There’s plenty of magic, tons of action, werewolves, sorcerers, and intrigue. These elements blend very well with the Victorian London setting. You can definitely believe the image of werewolves slinking through the foggy streets under a diffuse moonlight, or pitched magical battle in dark and twisting cobblestone alleys.
I find it odd, then, that I had so much trouble getting into this book. I think this is because there was so much attention paid to the setting and the flashy stuff that some of the substance fell by the wayside. I had difficulty connecting to the characters–they were fun to watch, but they weren’t quite three-dimensional enough for me. I also would have liked to have more worldbuilding, or at least a bit more background to set the stage for how London (and by extension, England) became the magic-filled place that it is in this series.
I felt that with the emphasis on action and the de-emphasis on characterization, the first third or so of the book felt like I had been dropped into a story with not enough explanation. You always here that you want to start a story in media res, but this novel appears to take that a bit too far. A slightly less action-packed beginning, a little more time to set the stage, and I might have been more engaged with this book.
As the novel went on, I felt more positive about it, but the lack of connection at the beginning definitely colored my perceptions. This certainly isn’t a badly written book, by any means. I am sure that many readers would find this book, and the rest of the series, very enjoyable. For me, however, it didn’t quite do the trick. I might pick up the second book at some point in the future and see how it plays out, but at the moment, I’m content to let it lie. If you’re looking for something with lots of flash and bang, you might want to check this one out, but if you’re a more character-centric reader, you may not like it.