Author: Kate Locke
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk/Futuristic
Series: The Immortal Empire #1
Hardcover, 354 pages
Published July 3, 2012 by Orbit
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Reading level: 17 & up
London, present day - and Queen Victoria still rules with an immortal fist.
She's 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 technology lives side by side with magic, where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side effects include undeath) and Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day.
Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it's her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But things get complicated when her sister goes missing. Xandra will not only realise she's the prize in a dangerous power struggle - but she'll also uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire itself.
In Ms. Locke’s debut novel when the bacterium of the Black Death killed humans across Europe it also created new races from the aristocrats. The Plague resulted in a regulatory protein called the Prometheus Protein that turned aristocrats into either vampires or werewolves. When one parent is a vampire and the other a werewolf, the offspring is a hybrid, a goblin. Vampires and werewolves become the nobility of London, while the goblins live underground and are the most feared creatures (above vampires/werewolves). This world has humans, halvies, vampires, goblin and werewolves living in an open world, side by side. Our main heroine Alexandra ‘Xandra’ Vardan, a halvie, who is half vampire-half human is in search of her missing sister Dede. It turns out Dede was taken to Bedlam, a mental institution; because people think she gone ‘hatters’ mad for attacking an aristocrat. Days later Xandra receives a call saying that Dede committed suicide by setting herself on fire, but Xandra doesn’t believe it for one second. As Xandra sets out to find the truth about her sister, revelation about herself and the aristocrats government comes to light.
This was a fun book! I enjoyed the pacing of the story; there was enough mystery, action and snarky dialogue to balance everything out. The year is 2012 and Queen Victoria (vampire) is entering her 175th year of reign. The book had a steampunk-futuristic setting, and while the dialogue reflects that, half the time I thought I was reading a book set in our present day which wasn’t so bad. Xandra was a cool, kick-ass heroine, I loved everything about her. She’s confident, a natural born leader (works as a Royal Guard for the queen), she never doubts herself and with everything that happens to Xandra in this book (and boy is there a lot of stuff that gets dumped on her) you just got to admire her perseverance.
The characters that make up Ms. Locke’s world are so colorful and unique; it’s a world you definitely want to come back to over and over again. This is one of my top reads of 2012; I’ve never read a fantasy quite like this. It’s not your run of the mill vampires/werewolves novel, I highly recommend this to all steampunk, and urban fantasy fans. If you haven’t read a book in the steampunk/fantasy genre this book would be a great introduction to either genre. Go out and grab this book…it’s unquestionably a shelf-keeper!!
The book itself is nothing like I’ve ever seen either LOL (as pictured below). It’s a little bit bigger than a mass market paperback and smaller than a regular/typical hardcover. The book is a small hardcover, and what makes it different than other hardcover books? There’s no dust-jacket!! The cover is printed on the hardcover itself. I love it, it’s so small and light and if a mass market paperback and a hardcover had a baby this is what you would get :P. I wished more books were printed like this, and readers wouldn’t have to worry about taking their dust-jacket off to keep it from getting bent/ruined.
|An example of the sizes (from left to right, mass market paperback, GSTQ hardcover, and a typical hardcover book)|
The cover is a great depiction of what you can expect from reading the book, and the model is a good representation of Xandra Vardan. Everything from the bright candy-red hair down to the clothing, the only thing that is wrong is Xandra’s eye color. The description in the book described the Vardan children with having green eyes, and the model on the cover has red/marron eyes other than that…everything is perfect. I wonder if the art department read the book lol, because while they did a great job; covers I’ve seen in the past sometimes have nothing to do with the book, or doesn’t give a good representation of the book.
**Thank you Orbit Books for providing me with this book for review**