Sunday, July 05, 2015

Review: The Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

The Shadow Revolution
Author:  Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
Series: Crown & Key 1
Publisher:  Del Rey, June 2, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  978034553950 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

A thrilling new Victorian-era urban fantasy for fans of Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, the Showtime series Penny Dreadful, and the Sherlock Holmes movies featuring Robert Downey, Jr.

They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.

As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.

Melanie's Thoughts

The writing couple of Susan and Clay Griffith set their new series in Victorian London but in a version of London where the supernatural and magic reign supreme. The authors quickly introduce the reader to the characters that will monopolise the story over the coming chapters. The opening chapters introduce us to Simon Archer, the rogue and ladies man whose body is covered with magical tattoos, and his friend and mentor, Nick Barker.  The pair walk on the fringes of society, never fully accepted but never far away from it either. Neither have exploited their magical talents and Simon's magical abilities are still largely untested. He has let his studies with Nick slide in favour of a night on the tiles with his friend. Everything is about to change when fate intervenes in the form of a vicious and deadly werewolf that rampages through a ball when they end up being helped by the aristocratic Kate Anstruther. It would seem that Kate has everything going for her - social standing, wealth, a famous family name, and intelligence. She could be one of society's darlings if she wasn't more interested in alchemy and science than her social standing. Finally there is Malcolm MacFarlane the gun toting Scottish hunter who dislikes Simon on sight. Things irrevocably change when Kate's sister is kidnapped and it is linked to a key that Simon wears around his neck. This group of misfits are drawn together to stop a a deadly predator that will take every weapon they have to defeat.

I think The Shadow Revolution suffered a bit from an identity crisis. It read in parts like steampunk but without any of the 'coolness' that comes from this genre. Simon relies on his magic, Malcolm on his weaponry and Kate on her alchemy. Separately they are almost insignificant but together they are a powerhouse. Their strengths did not, however, help them with the challenges they face when up against a legion of werewolves and a much older evil that threatens not just London. I have to completely disagree with the comparison to Kevin Hearne's Iron Druids series, Penny Dreadful or Sherlock Holmes (with Robert Downey Jr? almost an insult to Arthur Conan Doyle). These comparisons subjugate the Griffiths' characters and are not accurate. In my view neither the plotline nor the characters are like any of these other stories.

Overall, I liked this book but I was a bit surprised at its simplicity. I guessed nearly every plot twist or big reveal well before it happened. I didn't think it was as a challenging of a read as Griffiths' other series The Vampire Empire. I never knew what was going to happen next in that series yet in book 1 of The Crown and Key I guessed every one. It is still enjoyable and I do so like the plucky Kate and the acerbic Malcolm. Bring on book 2 - The Undying Legion.


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