Last year (JUST KIDDING, CBR informed me it was actually February; OMG we have lived ten years since the election, you guys), I enjoyed David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars, which was billed to me as Jane Austen meets Jules Verne. It’s an accurate comparison. I was excited to see a new adventure come out a mere year later. I immediately grabbed it from the library and read it on top of my unread-stack.
Because this is a direct continuation of the first novel, I’ll try not to give spoilers for Arabella and the Battle of Venus. But suffice it to say that Captain Singh has been commissioned on a mission for the Honourable Mars Company, and Arabella is stuck being a lady on Mars at her family plantation. Her anxiety over Captain Singh grows with a solitary, cryptic letter she receives and she determines that her only way to find him is to travel to Venus with a motley crew of sailors. What she finds is a horror beyond her wildest imagination.
This sequel disappointed me a little, to be perfectly honest. It just doesn’t flow the same way Arabella of Mars does, and it suffers from having to live up to expectations. The middle of the book is heavy and slow (perhaps like Venus? Maybe it’s an attempt to recreate the heaviness of gravity?), and it’s not until the final third that the action picks up again. Finally, I need to address the wholly unnecessary “love triangle” that Levine attempted in the book. Dude, no. We don’t need relationship drama when you gave us something good in the first book. Stick to what works. Don’t try to change it up too much. See: Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories, where the husband-wife dynamic remains consistent throughout the series. Still, the last third of the book has cracking good action sequences, which gives me hope for future entries. Also, reading the acknowledgements, I found out that Levine’s wife died in the middle of writing the book, and I re-read some of the more melancholy passages with perhaps a new bit of empathy or understanding. 3.5 stars.
Cross-posted to my blog.