Series: Bannon & Clare #3
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Horror, Steampunk
Published by Orbit on August 19, 2014
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Reviewed by: Julia
References to prostitution, kissing.
New York Times bestselling author Lilith Saintcrow continues her dazzling new series set in an alternate Victorian world starring a forensic sorceress, a detective, and a conspiracy that will shake the Empire.
Sorcery. Treason. Madness. And, of course, murder most foul...
Archibald Clare, mentath in the service of Britannia, is about his usual business--solving crimes and restoring public order until a shattering accident places him in the care of Emma Bannon, sorceress Prime, who once served...and now simply remains at home, tending her solarium in reasonably quiet contentment. What Clare needs now is time to recover, and not so incidentally, a measure of calm to repair his faculties of Logic and Reason. Without them, he is not his best. One could even say that without them, he is not even properly a mentath at all.
Unfortunately, calm and rest will not be found. There is a killer hiding in the sorcerous steam-hells of Londinium, stalking the Eastron End and unseaming poor women of a certain reputation. A handful of drabs murdered on cold autumn nights would make no difference...but the killings echo in the highest circles possible, and threaten to bring the entire edifice of Empire down in smoking ruins.
Now Emma Bannon, once more, is pressed into service and Archibald Clare, once more, is determined to aid her. The secrets between these two old friends may give an ambitious sorcerer the means to bring down the Crown. And there is still no way to reliably find a hansom when one needs it most.
Britannia is threatened. Londinium quakes. Sorcery births an unholy monster.
The game is afoot...
Perhaps the best of the series thus far, THE RIPPER AFFAIR is the confluence of a dark mystery, an exploration of London's altered and haunting landscape, and the emotional growing pains of Bannon's little family. A fantastic book for any one of these elements, combining all three makes for a relentless, mesmerizing read.
Though the title evokes a sensational murderer from our own world, THE RIPPER AFFAIR is very much focused on the social and magical results of these murders in their own alternate world. Victorian strictures bind each of our characters in different ways, but THE RIPPER AFFAIR reveals the depth of their feelings below the social constraints. While my favorite reveal was a glimpse of Bannon's Victorian views on "proper womanhood", a great deal of the narrative also follows Clare's changing understanding of what his magical partner is capable of, despite being culturally conditioned to view her in terms of her tiny, feminine physicality. Not so much a romance as the continued flowering of respect and partnership, the mentath's struggle with Feelings was deftly woven into the story, neither telegraphing an outcome nor diluting the mystery with melodrama.
While much of Urban Fantasy's "steampunk" leans towards the glossy and glamorous, Bannon & Clare offers a slow, rich stew of danger and grit and horror. From the city itself to the primal magic of its inhabitants, THE RIPPER AFFAIR is the stunning legacy of Gothic Romance, Horror, and Urban Fantasy.