REVIEW by Ginny: The Janus Affair (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #2) by Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris (@PhilippaJane , @TeeMonster , @puretextuality )
Evildoers beware Retribution is at hand, thanks to Britain’s best-kept secret agents
Certainly no strangers to peculiar occurrences, agents Wellington Books and Eliza Braun are nonetheless stunned to observe a fellow passenger aboard Britain’s latest hypersteam train suddenly vanish in a dazzling bolt of lightning. They soon discover this is not the only such disappearance . . . with each case going inexplicably unexamined by the Crown.
The fate of England is once again in the hands of an ingenious archivist paired with a beautiful, fearless lady of adventure. And though their foe be fiendishly clever, so then is Mr. Books . . . and Miss Braun still has a number of useful and unusual devices hidden beneath her petticoats.
First and foremost, I’ve just got to get one thing out of the way. Interlude VI will break every piece of your soul. Assuming you have one. I’m still beyond shocked and teary eyed because of it. (This is the only part of the review that I’ve had written for days, and I still find myself almost sick when I think about it. The interlude is that shocking and powerful and just truly heart wrenching.)
But enough about that unpleasantness, let’s move on to the rest of the book.
In the newest installment of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, we have Eliza and Books investigating a string of suffragist disappearances that have not only gone unsolved, but have also gone uninvestigated. Eliza gets a blast from the past in the form of Kate and Douglass Sheppard. And then Interlude VI rips your heart out of your chest.
Ok, so clearly I can’t talk about the plot, let’s go at this from a different angle.
Our beloved agents:
Once again we find ourselves watching the fireworks caused by the unlikely pairing of Archivist Wellington Thornhill Books and Jr. Archivist and former field agent Eliza D. Braun.
Books: Sharp as a tack Books is the epitome of an English gentleman. Except as we find out in this book, he’s really not. Or, at least, it’s not something that comes as easily to him as he’d like everyone to believe. I adore characters with layers, and I can’t help but feel like we’ve just begun to scratch the surface when it comes to Books.
Eliza: A woman after my own heart, Eliza loves explosives, guns, new fun contraptions, and the ministry seven. She’s rough and soft all at the same time. An excellent former field agent, she can see almost everything. The only thing she’s apparently blind to are how awesome Books is and how un-awesome Douglass is.
The ministry seven: Actually eight street urchins who work with Eliza when she needs covert spies.
The supporting cast:
Sophia Del Morte: Our favorite Italian assassin makes an appearance and it’s clear that she does not consider her business with Books to be concluded.
Kate Sheppard: Suffragist extreme. It was under Eliza’s watch that she ended up injured in a most horrific way and now has mechanical parts. It was because of this injury that Eliza is in exile.
Douglass Sheppard: Eliza’s first love. He’s a douche. I didn’t like him at the beginning and I didn’t like him at the end. The in between parts weren’t pleasant either. Though I can’t say how I would’ve felt about him if he wasn’t a romantic rival for Eliza’s attentions.
There are others, but I’m terrified if I list them out you’ll learn some important because I don’t think I can possibly remain biased about the persons involved in not only the end of the story, but that damned interlude VI again.
On the plus side, the ending does almost make up for Interlude VI. Almost.
4.5 Stars. If you enjoy steam punk this book pretty much has it all. It’s a hard read since you find the main characters working against each other at times (and that damn interlude) but it’s still more than worth it.