The Dark Victorian: Risen

The Dark Victorian: Risen - JoSelle Vanderhooft, Elizabeth Watasin

(I got a copy courtesy of NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

This novel is quite a short one—too short, in fact, for the scope it seemed to want to reach. Maybe it's a case of "first book in a series syndrome". Anyway, I found the premise interesting, but kept wishing it went deeper into some of its aspects, and developed things more than it did.

The plot felt somewhat muddled, rushing in parts, not really going anywhere in others. I'm still wondering what exactly it was about. A reanimator, sure, and a gallery of other characters that looked like they were introduced for later use mostly, because while they helped with things like clothing, they didn't really do more. But I didn't exactly feel a sense of urgency, and it was as if some hints and links between events were thrown in, in a disjointed way.

The banter between Art and Jim was likeable at times, definitely weird at others, taking space that might have been better used for more scenes, more plot development. Art's way of speaking was also rather quirky, the whole Quaker business leaving me perplexed: I didn't understand to which degree it was relevant. She seemed like an interesting character enough as it was, with a lot of potential, without the need to add such quirks. Maybe reading the sequel would allow me to appreciate them more... or maybe not. I honestly can't tell.

I would also have liked to know more about this organisation resurrecting criminals while wiping their memories. Not "more" in terms of secrets (every such organisation needs secrets, to be revealed later), but as in "a larger view of its agents". Who else was involved? How does the Secret Commission operate, since everybody appears to know about it and either respect or fear their badges? There's some potential here as well, and I'm positive it would have deserved more spotlight in this first installment. Just a few more agents walking around, to make me feel like Jim, Art and Fall weren't the only ones.

Art's leaning towards other women was also dealt with a little too strangely to my liking, in that the way it was revealed, the way it unfurled, felt wonky and jarring. It's probably a pacing problem more than anything else, because I had the same feeling with other scenes, as mentioned above. However, it was also good to see it accepted by other characters as something that just happens, something that "is". Though Jim makes a few quips about it, it's in a friendly way, the same kind of way he comments about other situations.

I'm not sure I'd pick the next book. It's more a 1.5* for me, leaning towards a 2, because there are intriguing elements about which I'd like to learn more, so you never know... But not if it's as disjointed as in this one