I actually requested the sequel to this book on Netgalley and was approved before I realized it was the second book in a series, and while it didn’t seem like it would be necessary to read this one first since romance books can usually be read on their own, I thought I’d give it a shot anyway. And it was a pretty good time!
So this book is about lady pirates who fly their houses around England. They take no offense at thievery and assassination, but you must be proper about it, and heaven forbid we should talk about the body as if it actually exists! Anyway, the main character’s father is an insane pirate who hates women and who has decided to kill all the lady pirates, Queen Victoria, and take England under his rule, all because he thinks his father was Branwell Brontë (brother to Charlotte, Anne, and Emily), and he is angry about not being legitimate so he can like, cash in on that fame, or whatever.
This is a strange little book. I had a hard time getting into it at first, and the worldbuilding elements (since it’s fantasy, and alt-history to some extent) felt really under-developed and nonsensical to me for like half the book, but then something clicked and I ended up having a good time with it. The flying houses thing really got to me. It still seems ridiculous in terms of logistics, but I guess you just have to go with it. Especially since it’s meant to be ridiculous, as is the rest of the book. As an example of this, there is a character list at the beginning, only it turns out that by the end you realize that one character in the book is actually seven of those characters listed, in his various aliases. Also, there’s a scene where the main character’s aunt* calls Charles Darwin “Chubber Darwin”, and implies he was one of her lovers.
*Not really, but spoilers.
There is a love for gothic literature present here, an affection for literature set in the Victorian time period, and almost a lampooning of Victorian sexual and social mores. Each chapter starts with a play on a line from a Brontë novel, and there is a beleaguered copy of Wuthering Heights the main character drags around in a futile attempt to connect to her heritage, which at one point is shot through with a bullet. I enjoyed this as much as I do not enjoy Wuthering Heights. The Victorian flavored sex scene made me laugh out loud, although I’m not sure it was supposed to/
Very much looking forward to the second book.