Thursday 8 October 2015

Clare Reviews: A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell Mystery, #1)Title: A Curious Beginning
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell #1
Pages: 389
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4.5/5

Blurb: London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.
But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

“I abhorred weakness of any kind but most particularly in my tea.”

If I had to make a list of my favourite authors, Deanna Raybourn would definitely be in the top 5. She is one of the most consistently brilliant writers I have ever had the pleasure of reading. So I knew going in that I was destined for an enjoyable few hours.

Veronica was a wonderful heroine. She was strong, and intelligent and I really enjoyed her logic and practicality. She reminded me at times of Alexia from Gail Carriger's Soulless series, except she was far less concerned with propriety! I loved the idea of a heroine from the 19th century who had not only had lovers, but had possibly more than the hero and was completely unbothered by it. I will confess to loving Lady Julia (from Raybourn's Silent in the Grave series) a little more but I am fairly sure a lot of that is down to nostalgia - she was my introduction to Deanna Raybourn's writing after all! 

Our hero here, Stoker was just as compelling as Veronica and I loved his growth throughout the story, particularly in his relationship with Veronica. By the end of the book he was completely willing to let her be in control and I loved how incredibly non-sexist he was but in a way that felt realistic to the time and not just thrown in to make him more likable. Both characters had flaws but they were so likable and was rooting for them all the way through.

The mystery was excellently done, I had absolutely no idea how things were going to unfold until they were revealed, which is the way I like mysteries to be. The actual revelation wasn't necessarily how I would have liked it to go, I am always wary of bringing real people into a fictional plot, but I did think it made sense and was very well wrapped up.

I really liked the setting and the action, I could always picture what was happening, and where, in my head which I loved. And the events of the book were fast paced enough that I never got bored but this didn't neglect the character growth. The ending, though complete, left a lot of room for a sequel and I am beyond curious about Stoker's past! I loved that Veronica didn't demand to know anything about him and vice versa it made their revelations more spread out over the book and it meant more when secrets were revealed. So I am very much looking forward to finding out more as the series continues.

Veronica and Stoker had quite an interesting relationship, he was very taciturn and distrustful to start with whilst she was so nonchalant about everything and delighted in winding him up. I loved their early interactions because they were hilarious and I loved their later interactions because they had gained a knowledge and respect for each other that I really enjoyed.

Book 2 of the series isn't available to pre-order yet or you could be sure I would already have done so. Deanna Raybourn did not disappoint with this book, I only wish I had less of a wait for the next one - but maybe I can just re-read her other books in the meantime! If you are a fan of her other books, or if you enjoy Historical Mystery then I definitely recommend this book. Veronica was a unique and compelling narrator and there was a very strong mystery. 

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading

No comments:

Post a Comment