London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.
I know the year is still young, but this is my favorite book of 2014 so far. It has the Gothic touches I love with some great action and mystery sequences that will make anyone excited.
What was most enjoyable for me was the way that the story was handled. There is nothing truly unique about the plot, per se, but it is the way that the plot unravels that makes it a special story. The reader is never too sure where the story is going, because it changes directions a number of times (though never losing the reader’s focus). There are so many layers of stories here that give it a saga-like quality.
There are some very frightening moments as well, which, for a lover of horror like I am, are a huge plus in any book. The ending, too, which I won’t reveal, is fantastic and makes me hope that there will, at some point, be a sequel. If you love historical Gothic fiction, this is one you HAVE to pick up.
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