When I started this book, it seems as though I was ready for something fun and witty and action-packed, because I completely loved this.
I like steampunk, but I haven't read a lot of the genre, mostly because there's so much now, and I can't separate what looks good from what doesn't. Thank goodness for goodreads, or I never would have stumbled onto this gem. Just from reading the summary, I decided to give it a go. Right from the first page we are hit with action and witty dialog.
The interactions between the action hungry and crass Eliza Braun and the bookish Wellington Books are amusing and intriguing. Both are agents at the Ministry of Peculiar Occurences, but while Eliza is an experience field agent, Wellington prefers his job as Archivist. The two are thrown together as punishment for Eliza when she goes off on her own against the Ministry's orders. And they find themselves in a rather interesting case that Eliza's former partner was investigating on his own, before he went mad and was thrown into Bedlam.
This book had it all: undercover work, concealed weapons, fancy gadgets, explosions, secret societies, you name it! There was also a rather fabulous Italian lady assassin running about, causing trouble, and I just loved her. I'm not sure if that's a common reaction to her character, but she was so interesting. I hope to see more of her in the next book. Really, this book had some strong female characters, and that's always a plus for me. In the partnership of Books & Braun, it was refreshing to see the woman be the muscle for a change.
The only qualm I had was that sometimes I had to go back and reread things to catch something. Sometimes, something wasn't properly explained until later, and I would become confused, because I'd almost forgotten about it. Other than that, I really had no other problems with it.
Set in an alternate 1890s London, this was a rather refreshing change from what I usually read, and I'm glad I took the chance.
Oh, and a note about the cover: Eliza wears nothing like this. The cover of the next book The Janus Affair is much more accurate to what Eliza looks like and wears.