Today we have a Victorian adventure by Elizabeth Watasin, The Dark Victorian: Risen. This is the first book in the Dark Victorian series.
Jim Dastard is not your usual detective. In fact, he is a talking disembodied skull who works for the Secret Commission, a government bureau that resurrects people from the dead and sends them to fight other eldritch threats to England.
His latest partner is Artifice, a tall, statuesque woman recently brought back from the dead. The resurrected agents of the Commission have their memories erased at the beginning of their second life, so Art (as she comes to be called) has no idea who or what she was prior to her death.
However, her new form does have certain advantages, like the ability to fly and become incorporeal, as well as superhuman strength and endurance. She’ll need these advantages if she and Jim Dastard are to stop the villain who’s been reanimating the dead and using them to commit murder throughout London.
The Dark Victorian: Risen provides a refreshing change to the steampunk formula. Art and Jim Dastard make a colorful duo and play off each other’s quirks very well. I even found the villain to be (somewhat) sympathetic.
There isn’t a whole lot of character development since, as I said, the agents of the Commission have amnesia and don’t even know who they are — or were. Tantalizing hints regarding Art’s past are provided via women who obviously know who she was, but Watasin has clearly chosen to save big revelations for later volumes.
There is one significant caveat which may turn off readers. The female characters are not shy about showing their attraction to one another. Lesbians abound in this story. If that doesn’t bother you (or if you’re a hotblooded male), by all means pick up The Dark Victorian: Risen. You’ll find an engaging story within.