Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tuesday #Review - Night of the Victorian Dead by Amber Michelle Cook #SyFy #Gothic

Series: Night of the Victorian Dead # 1
Format: E-Book, 272 pages
Release Date: March 18th 2018
Publisher: Asset Creative House 
Source: Publisher
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy

The unwitting attendees of a country ball are all too busy striving to hide secrets and make matches to see what’s going on around them until it’s almost too late!

Among the green and rolling hills of Old England, the fields lie ripe for reaping under a blighted Harvest Moon.  While tenants and servants fear the eerie light, Mr. Dorchester invites several families of his acquaintance to his estate—for a visit culminating in a ball to celebrate his ward’s engagement to a most eligible neighbor.  Amid all the usual hopes and anticipation such an event inevitably excites. 

All the while, signs of the dead rising are increasing until the entire household wakes in the middle of the night to a gut-wrenching scream inside the house.

It's the first novel of a trilogy, in which Downton Abbey meets the undead.

Where imagination and suspense reign over splatter-gore, and the knowing modern reader can enjoy accompanying unsuspecting characters down the road to the inevitable, while themselves encountering mysteries and unexpected twists along the way.

Welcome to Romero Park, by author Amber Michelle Cook, is the first installment in what is being called Night of the Victorian Dead series. This story, set in 19th century England, is being marketed as Downton Abbey meets Night of the Living Dead. It is a tale of secrets, romance, and suspense delicately laced with sly humor. The author was inspired by works of literature from Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, and in tribute to the delightful terror of first encountering classic undead creatures in Night of the Living Dead. 

Cook tells her story through an assortment of characters:

-Edward Dorchester, the disillusioned owner of Romero Park, and possible suitor for Rosemary Helgram, who through machinations that the reader will slowly come to discover, has gathered a group of friends together for what is sure to be a monstrous occasion. Not only does he plan to have a ball for his ward, but perhaps a bit of revenge as well. 

-17-year old Sophie Dorchester, ward of Edward. Brought up in France, moved to England to become the so called Blushing English Rose along with her governess Anne Sommerset. Sophie is soon to be engaged to Blake Helgram, but there are things that could waylay that engagement if Edward has any say in the matter. The most reserved of all the characters. She doesn't want to upset the apple cart, or make her ward angry with her. So, stands in the background and watches as the rest of the cast foreshadows what is apparently coming in the next installment.

-Anne Sommerset, Sophie's governess who perhaps pins for her employer and seeks to free him from his misguided plans for those who have been invited to the ball of the year. Anne is perhaps the most fascinating character in this book outside of one who I will summarize shortly. She seems to know that there is something dark happening right under the surface. Yet, she doesn't try to make a scene to anyone, including Sophie. She tries hard to keep Sophie in check while also letting her express her desires.  

-William Poole, the reclusive apothecary, working at Romero Park under false pretenses. He is hiding so many secrets, it is hard to understand just who this man is, and what he and Edward are up to. Called out by Rosemary Helgram, Poole and his assistant are up to something very dark and nefarious. Poole is definitely up to no good, and one could say that he is Edward's partner in his machinations. 

-Rosemary Helgram, a local beauty raised to marry. Her hope is to marry Edward Dorchester, but she is also hiding some secrets. She also suspects that there is much more than meets the eyes when it comes to Mr. Poole, and what he is doing at Romero Park. Rosemary finds herself trying to protect Sophie knowing the girl has zero chance at making it on her own. She has one of the few encounters with an actual undead in this book. 

-George Bottlesworth, a young man who is Edward's man servant. He is finding great satisfaction at playing the indispensable manservant. But, as well learn later in the story, George is also hiding a secret that the author has gone through great pains to hide from readers until perhaps the sequel. George may be the only other character who actually peaked my curiosity wondering what will happen to him next. 

This is a story that really took me a long time to warm up to. It starts out slow, intersperses hints that something of the undead nature is making an appearance, while also tossing in a bit of intrigue, and twists. The romance really isn't heavily involved in this installment. One could say that the characters named above all have some sort of twist when it comes to whom they will actually end up with. I dare say that part three of this story is perhaps the most entertaining since some very interesting surprises wait the reader.

Meanwhile, we know that something hideous is happening. We know this because several of the characters are either attacked or encounter things that just urges the reader to continue further into the story. I recently watched the movie Pride, Prejudice and Zombies. It is a mashup combining Jane Austen's classic novel Pride and Prejudice (1813) with elements of modern zombie fiction, crediting Austen as co-author. Welcome to Romero Park tries hard to emulate that move but so far lacks the zombies and action. 

**I received this book from publisher in lieu of a review.**

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