Published by Mariner Books on November 14, 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Historical
Sexual Content: Kissing, discussions of sex, nondescriptive sex scene
Reviewed by: Tacoma
Victorian London is a place of fluid social roles, vibrant arts culture, fin-de-siècle wonders . . . and dangerous underground diabolic cults. Fencer Evadne Gray cares for none of the former and knows nothing of the latter when she’s sent to London to chaperone her younger sister, aspiring art critic Dorina.
At loose ends after Dorina becomes enamored with their uncle’s friend, Lady Henrietta “Henry” Wotton, a local aristocrat and aesthete, Evadne enrolls in a fencing school. There, she meets George Cantrell, an experienced fencing master like she’s always dreamed of studying under. But soon, George shows her something more than fancy footwork—he reveals to Evadne a secret, hidden world of devilish demons and their obedient servants. George has dedicated himself to eradicating demons and diabolists alike, and now he needs Evadne’s help. But as she learns more, Evadne begins to believe that Lady Henry might actually be a diabolist . . . and even worse, she suspects Dorina might have become one too.
Combining swordplay, the supernatural, and Victorian high society, Creatures of Will and Temper reveals a familiar but strange London in a riff on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that readers won't soon forget.
I finished CREATURES OF WILL AND TEMPER in one day. I must confess I have a particular weakness for Victorian settings, courting, and excessive blushing. Combine that with fencing, demons, and queer characters and you have my very devoted attention. Finishing this novel had me desperately searching for more of Molly Tanzer's work.
Each of the point of view characters in CREATURES OF WILL AND TEMPER is relatable and fleshed out. I felt so deeply for Evadne, the protective elder sister and fencer who believes she’s a joke in comparison to Dorina. But I also felt for Dorina, who was so certain of herself despite her youth, but still capable of being hurt. And let’s not forget my favorite, Henry, an instantly admirable character that is also flawed.
Readers intrigued because of the promise of a riff on The Picture of Dorian Gray should be warned that the connection is thin. If it weren't for a few scenes involving a painting and the use of the name Dorina, I may have completely forgotten that claim in the novel's blurb.
I only have two complaints, which largely did not detract from my enjoyment of the novel. The title initially turned me off, as I found it completely nonsensical. Secondly, I dislike one-year later epilogues. I'd almost prefer to end on a cliffhanger, rather than to miss an entire year of development and experiences, only to be provided a quick summation. CREATURES OF WILL AND TEMPER'S last chapter does not end on a cliffhanger, but rather on an earned and emotional climax. However, I suspect that many readers will appreciate the inclusion of the epilogue.Series Titles:
- For another fantasy book in a Victorian setting, check out 5Bat! Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger