February 20, 2013

Review: The Phoenix Rising crashes and burns

Phoenix Rising
A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel, Bk 1
Pip Ballentine & Tee Morris

Mass Market Paperback, Harper Voyager, 2011, 402p.
ISBN: 9780062049766

Evil is most assuredly afoot - and Britain's fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade ... and a librarian.

These are dark days indeed in Victoria's England.  Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as sorpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone.  Yet the Minister of Peculiar Occurrences - the Crown's clandestine organisation whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling - will not allow its agents to investigate.  Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest ... and she's prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the
perilous fray.
For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons.  And Books and Braun - he with his encyclopaedic brain and she with her remarkable devices - must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot ... or see England fall to the Phoenix!

Sorry about his folks, but Blogger's auto-save function crapped out on me and I lost my whole original review.  So, my thoughts - take 2.

"Malevolence has met it's match in Agents Books and Braun!"

And so did my patience.
I have had Phoenix Rising in my wishlist for about the last three months, so when I saw it discounted at a Collin's Bookshop I was so excited.   I loved Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series so I was looking forward getting stuck into another Steampunk title ... I should have known.
Phoenix Rising was just a disappointment through and through.  Our antagonists, Wellington 'Welly' Books and Eliza D. Braun were just whinny and annoying.  Braun is an loose cannon and arrogant to boot.  She just likes to blow shit up and bucks authority at the drop of a hat.  And while the more sedate Books is the 'by the book' character, he was just as obnoxious and unrealistic.  They annoyed me to no end and I found that I had could make no real connection with these characters.
The protagonists were just annoying and cliche, and I found the Aussie character's stereotyping as the colonial knob more than a little insulting.  The POV changes with every chapter, bouncing back and forwards between these two.  Even the writing style left me hanging.  I eventually gave up reading the book as I just couldn't take any more of this drek.  I skimmed the last few pages hoping that the ending was good enough that I could convince myself to go back and slog my way through, but alas, it wasn't.  I think I must have just fluked reading the Parasol Protectorate first because Braun is just a poor man's Alexia Tarabotti, if that.

The only plus I could find here were some of the gadgets.
This book will now go to the back of the bottom of my bookshelf to collect dust.  I can't believe I wasted my time trying to read this and I even begrudge it the $3.50 I spent on it. If you do come across it, walk away unless you're a major fan of the genre.  If you must try it, find it on the shelves at your local library.

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