I went on holiday last week and prepared my kindle with a bunch of interesting new books, several of which have been recommended by fellow Cannonballers. The first one I read, though, was one I bought a while ago in a Humble ebook bundle: New Amsterdam, by Elizabeth Bear.
More of a collection of short stories than a novel per se, the book contains several mysteries which are investigated and solved by three connected people: the vampire Don Sebastien de Ulloa, the sorcerer Abigail Irene Garrett, and de Ulloa’s servant and courtier/courtesan Jack. The mysteries all have a supernatural bent to them, but the very human politics and scandals surrounding them are just as thrilling.
I’ve read other books by Bear, which I didn’t review because I was stuck for a while*, and she does non-standard characters well, as well as non-heteronormative romances. This book is no exception: the chemistry between the various different characters is great, and the way Sebastien builds up his small and unique court is a pleasure to watch unfolding. If I had to be a thrall to any fictional vampire, I’d want it to be him. He is a lovely character, and a really good vampire as well, with pleasing amounts of inhuman predator about him.
Abby Irene was my favourite though. She is never anything less than brutally honest with herself, and she takes no prisoners with anyone else either. She is very much in charge of her body and sexuality, and that’s rare to see in any female character, let alone one in her middle age. She reminded me a lot of some of Bujold’s older heroines, although Bear’s style is very different than Bujold’s work.
Amazon tells me there are more books in this series. I will definitely be checking them out at some point.
4 stars, highly recommended, would like more sex for fifth star.
Cross-posted to my blog here.
* I got stuck on reviewing after reading The Others series. I didn’t stop reading though. If you want to read my long and in-depth analysis of why The Others bothered me so much, the link is here. I am not overstating its length though, it’s several thousand words of introspection and frustration.