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Thursday, November 30, 2017

#allthebookreviews: Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer @molly_the_tanz @hmhco

Creatures of Will and Temper
by Molly Tanzer
Mariner Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Huge thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for these copies.

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.

My Thoughts:

Set in Victorian London, we learn of two sisters who are about as opposite as you can get.  While they struggle in their relationship with each other, their trip introduces other characters who become vast influences on each of them.  The beginning of the book lays a foundation of their individual characters and their sisterly fights while still having that underlying loyalty of love that only siblings share.  Then as we get into parts 2 and 3, the book starts to take off.

I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I LOVE Dorian Gray and books about demons and the dark arts.  This book is a mix of both and as such, I have mixed feelings with this story.  The writing itself is fine but  the slow start had my attention being pulled away from the pages.  I struggled to continue at certain points but was really curious where the demon and Dorian Gray feel would enter into play as the first half was pretty deplete of any inkling of either of these two things.  Keeping in mind this book is INSPIRED by the story and not a retelling, it's fitting it played more into the subplot rather than into the main storyline.  By the time we are introduced to the diabolists, demons and the dark side of the book, I was just "eh" about it.  It did get interesting but the demons still had little influence...  Demons aside, this felt like more of a story of sisterly love and finding that chord that solidifies their relationship than anything darker or supernatural.

I think those who like historical fiction will be more apt to enjoy this book more than I did.  I think I may have expected more than what I ended up getting and was hoping for a darker read.


Jessica's Thoughts:

Victorian England, demons, and fencing - what more could you want in a fantasy novel? This was definitely a more unique read and I think that's what I liked most about it. CREATURES OF WILL & TEMPER by Molly Tanzer seemed to have a little of everything, but they were combined so well that it wasn't awkward.

We follow two sisters, Evadne and Dorina as they venture to London. Dorina is an aspiring art critic, and Evadne is along for the ride as she chaperone's her younger sister. Being an avid fencer, Evadne enrolls herself in a fencing school where she meets her instructor, George Cantrell. George not only opens her eyes to new fencing techniques, but also to a hidden world of demons and the cults that worship them. He has dedicated his life to getting rid of demons and the diabolists that serve them and he enlists Evadne's help. However, this will prove to be difficult because the woman that Dorina has become enamored with might be a diabolist. What's worse, Dorina could be turned as well.

When you hear the combination of elements in this story you may think they sound like an odd mixture. I definitely did at first, but Tanzer blends all perfectly. Nothing felt out of place and I loved how realistic the characters were - you didn't love them but you didn't hate them. The relationship between the sisters felt like an authentic sibling relationship. Lots of disagreements and rebellion on Dorina's part. If a book has demons and cults in it, then it's going to pique my interest. Fencing is something that I know very little about, so having a swordplay element was unique.

Overall, if you want a unique story with a historical fiction feel, then this is one you should add to the TBR list. Cults, swords, and Victorian London - what else could you want in a fantasy novel?

I give this 4.5/5 stars!

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