July 3, 2012
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Queen Victoria rules with an immortal fist.
The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns.
When her baby sister Dede goes missing, Alexandra "Xandra" is the only one in her family of half-siblings to question the official story they're given. Deciding to keep her suspicions even from her brother and their other sister, she decides to set out on her own investigation, knowing it will likely lead to her to places unexpected. Just how unexpected, however, she never could have imagined.
The England of the Immortal Empire series is a brilliant mix of the Victorian era along with 2012. There's electricity, but Queen Victoria is still on the throne. People still take horses and carriages, yet there are things, as well, mirroring modern transportation. There are also paranormal creatures - a result of the plague, Not all infected with the plague died in this version of events, rather a gene mutation was caused resulting in vampires, werewolves, goblins and some half-bloods.
Xandra herself is a halvie, half-vampire and half-human. Just how it effects her -- and other halvies -- is explained in the book but it makes her a very interesting character. She's not a vampire yet she's not human, either. In fact, the entire society and culture that Kate Locke has created here is very original and a ton of fun. (Though when it's all first explained it is a bit tricky following just how all of the 'genetics' works.)
It was nice not to get weighed down by lots of talk about hierarchy or packs, structure or the goblins vs the weres vs the vampires and why they didn't all like each other, etc. It was as much a part of the story as it needed to be but the focus was really on Xandra. There's enough action, violence, drama and danger surrounding her and her quest for the truth as it is. We find out more about her, her past, her family, those closest to her, and some new characters as her story unfolds.
I love that as much of the world that Kate Locke created was able to be so effectively brought into such a character-centric book.
Both Xandra's DNA, the make-up of the society, the tension between the different beings (as whole groups and individuals) as well as the fantastic setting make this an incredibly enjoyable read. The way that Victorian and modern day settings are woven together is pretty brilliant - it's almost a reverse steampunk idea in a sense. With Victoria still reining and others around from her era as well, they've kept Victorian period things as part of modern society and/or things have evolved in a different manner. It's strange to explain but works so well in the book.
God Save the Queen does remind readers a bit of the Steampunk Chronicles (the YA series that starts with The Girl in the Steel Corset) and Gail Carriger's YA Espionage & Etiquette -- likely her adult series as well, but I've yet to read it -- so fans of either series will likely enjoy this. It should be noted, however, that The Immortal Empire is an adult series and contains a bit of adult content and quite a bit of adult language.
I can't wait to read the next book (and then be anxiously awaiting Number 3, out this fall).
arc received through LibratyThing Early Reviewers program.