Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review: Phoenix Rising (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1) by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Release date: April 26, 2011
Synopsis (Goodreads):
Evil is most assuredly afoot—and Britain’s fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade . . . and a librarian.

These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences—the Crown’s clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling—will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest . . . and she’s prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the perilous fray.

For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun—he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices—must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot . . . or see England fall to the Phoenix!
My Thoughts:  This book has a lot of good going for it.  It has a dastardly plot by some truly twisted individuals.  It has one sexy, self-sufficient heroine who likes to blow things up.  It has a brilliant inventor who has hidden depths and some scary good acting chops.  It has steam and gadgets and gruesome murders and a beautiful assassin.

Ultimately, I liked this book a lot.  It did take me longer than I expected to finish it.  We'd get these scenes of intense, blood-curdling action when the agents were out in the field and then everything would slow down when they descended back into the archives.  Going from one extreme to the other was jarring, although I do definitely see the point in the time they spent in the dusty bowels of the archives.

Things I loved: Eliza and Welly's drunken night on the town followed by the frenetic following morning after they'd taken the hangover cure.  Eliza's a bit of a firecracker as it is, making her lose her (admittedly already loose) inhibitions and go charging into battle without a care in the world was great.  Come to think of it, pretty much any time Welly and Eliza were going toe-to-toe was a hoot.  Those two are such polar opposites and yet they flourish when they're together.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the threads that were laid out for later books.  There were so many things that I want to know more about and I'm anxious to see where the overall arc is heading.

More books by Pip Ballantine
More books by Tee Morris

Reading challenges: The E-book Challenge, The Morbid Romantica Challenge, The Steampunk Challenge


  1. Thank you so much for taking time to review this, our first book in a new series. Pip and I are closing in on the end of Ministry's follow-up, and reviews like this only make us write harder.

    Thank you again for spending time with us at the Ministry.

  2. Here's the thing: when I go out and shoot people with my raygun, especially in London, unless it's the middle of summer and/or I've been drinking, I wear more than a corset and fishnets.

    On the other hand: drained of bone. That is just awesome.

  3. Bulletproof corset's pretty damn cool, though.

    How is it you keep talking me into these things?

  4. Oddmonster: I don't recall her wearing that particular outfit at any point, but Eliza is a saucy wench so it's possible. Mostly she wears her bulletproof corset and pants. Which, oddly enough, is exactly how I dress.

    Do you see why I adore her?