Saturday, July 18, 2015

#Steampunk Saturday - #Review - The Hanged Man by P.N. Elrod

Series: Her Majesty's Psychic Service # 1
Published by: Tor Books
Released: May 19, 2015
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Source: Library
Genre: Steampunk, Alternate History

On a freezing Christmas Eve in 1879, a forensic psychic reader is summoned from her Baker Street lodgings to the scene of a questionable death. Alexandrina Victoria Pendlebury (named after her godmother, the current Queen of England) is adamant that the death in question is a magically compromised murder and not a suicide, as the police had assumed, after the shocking revelation contained by the body in question, Alex must put her personal loss aside to uncover the deeper issues at stake, before more bodies turn up.

Turning to some choice allies--the handsome, prescient Lieutenant Brooks, the brilliant, enigmatic Lord Desmond, and her rapscallion cousin James--Alex will have to marshal all of her magical and mental acumen to save Queen and Country from a shadowy threat. Our singular heroine is caught up in this rousing gaslamp adventure of cloaked assassins, meddlesome family, and dark magic.

On Christmas Eve 1879, Alexandrina Victoria Pendlebury, a top of the line Psychic reader who works for Her Majesty's Psychic Service, is called out by the gruff Scotland Yard Inspector Lennon who tells it like it is, and isn't afraid of offending anyone's sensibilities or political correctness. He has himself a pickle, and can't get anything done until Alex clears the scene for him. He believes the victim is a suicide, but needs Alex to verify that fact before removing said body.

What Alex finds, however, leads to the discovery that the victim has been murdered. Whomever killed this man, left absolutely no emotions behind for Alex to track back to the killer. Why is this important? Because Alex relies on a persons emotions to track them back to the person responsible. Then, an eye opening shock hits Alex harder than anything she's experienced before even with all her worldly traveling and teachings and her demented family. The victim is someone she hasn't seen in 10 years. 

After being told that she is out of the murder investigation by her peers, and an encounter with a group of heavily armed masked men with air guns who apparently takes the life of a superior, Alex is determined to follow up on leads even if it means going against direct orders and putting herself at risk. Thankfully, she is not alone. She has her newest bodyguard/protector Lieutenant Brook alongside as well as her tosser of a cousin James Fonteyn. Alex must put her personal loss behind her and quickly uncover the deep mystery before more bodies turn up, including her own. 

The Hanged Man is the first installment in P.N. Elrod's Her Majesty's Psychic Service. Set in what I would call an Alternative History Victorian England, The Hanged Man is a bloody brilliant story with a fantastic heroine in Alexandrina Victoria Pendlebury. The Hanged Man grabbed me by the throat from the first page, and didn't let me breathe until the final chapter. The story combines aspects of Steampunk, Mystery, and a slice of Supernatural as well.

I have to say that I am impressed by The Hanged Man and am glad that book nuts Melliane and Braine recommended it to me. Loved the lead heroine, Alex. I love that would rather distance herself from their families, than be in the same room with them, especially her arrogant cousin Andrina. I like how she doesn't cower at the sight of danger, but jumps right in feet first. I like how she is human who makes mistakes. Nothing wrong with a character who makes mistakes as long as they learn from them.

Loved the world building. Loved that Elrod took on an entirely different look into Queen Victoria and who she married, and the social experiments like giving women the right to vote in all over her empire. Loved the mystery. Really couldn't say I wasn't shocked by the people who are involved. Loved the danger, and the partnership between Alex and Lieutenant Brooks, and her crazy cousin James. I even loved the Seer Sybil even though she was clearly off her rocker but did save the day once or twice. 

Definitely needing a sequel to see what happens next to Alex and Her Majesty's Psychic Service. Perhaps a bit of romance next time? ::shrug:: I dare say that if you enjoyed Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris' The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, you will absolutely adore this story as well.

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