Second book in the saga of Emily Edwards. I enjoyed it, but didn't love it. The pacing is off. The main character feels curiously passive, even though, thinking back, she actually did keep taking matters into her own hands. But for some reason, it doesn't feel like it. Why is that?
I can't quite put my finger on it, but it doesn't feel tightly plotted, nor does it feel like letting-things-take-their-own-sweet-time meandering. Which is too bad, because I liked the central character dilemmas more in this one than in the preceding volume, where I found them unconvincing.
Emily Edwards and Dreadnought Stanton are engaged, and he is about to take over as Sophos of the Institute of credomancers - magicians who fuel their power through the belief of others. Which explains all the purple prose in those dime novels featuring them. They're trying to increase their prestige and therefore, power.
Emily rarely gets to see her fiance anymore, and has to suffer through interminable social events designed to make her look like a proper young woman, worthy of the love of a hero magician. She'd rather be skyclad and out in the garden. This does not endear her to her future in-laws.
She takes a trip back to San Francisco just in time to catch some aftershocks, gets some surprising news from her Pap, manages to track down her birth mother's family, and is attacked or perhaps protected by the anti-magic Russian organization. In between social occasions. Which she hates. And so do I, which is maybe why I felt the pacing was off.
The investment of Stanton goes horribly wrong, and Emily is packed off willy-nilly to some place for her own protection. She runs away. She is captured by Russians. She allies with Russians. She decides she can't be with her fiancee anymore, as she has started to have doubts about his past.
Actually, the payoff on that looming backstory is pretty good. I was happy with it. And the ending very sweet.
But just liked the previous entry, there was something missing, a layer of engagement I just never got. The story was fun, the characters interesting, but the pace of the plot was off, and there were these long lags of Emily waiting around that were just not that interesting. I would say it's a better entry than the previous book, but still not stellar.
Still, if you're looking for fun American historical fantasy, you could do worse than give this a try. It's probably not going to blow your socks off. But it might entertain you for a while.