Rating: 5 stars
Series: The Ministry of Curiosities, Book 1
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Steampunk, Historical, Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Romance, Retelling (kind of)
Publication Date: August 11, 2015
“Stop resisting,” Sir said to me. “Nobody wants to harm you.”
“Your name Mr. Nobody, eh?” I laughed at my joke although I didn’t find it funny. “I’m not going anywhere with you until you tell me what you want with me.” (Ch. 1)
If I’ve learned anything from my recent reads, it’s that I’m falling in love with the Steampunk genre and I can only question why I haven’t read these fantastic books before now. Archer has blow me away in this read in more ways than one, and I certainly can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in the series.
Having completely adored Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series (first review here), I was excited to jump into another Steampunk world. Thankfully, Archer’s world was just as amazing as Carriger’s and I’ve fallen even more in love with the Steampunk genre as a whole. Who knew that there was a whole genre that I’d love as much as this? (Many people, I’m just late to the party.)
While I’m also not usually the biggest fan of historical fiction novels, The Last Necromancer is a book that I just couldn’t put down. The world itself felt real and I found myself feeling bad for all of the street kids that I couldn’t help out. I’m lucky that I wanted for nothing growing up, unlike many of the people depicted in this novel. Not to mention Charlie being thrown out of a “loving” home and being forced to learn how to live on the streets by herself.
Victorian London seems to be the setting for many of the historical fiction books that I’ve picked up over the years and Archer has managed to present this setting in a unique way that intrigued me. I’ve found that many historical fiction novels (specifically the one’s I’ve picked up as I can’t attest to what I haven’t read) seem to gloss over the poverty that was prominent in the world at this time so it was refreshing to see this fact play a prominent role in the world.
Then we have the characters themselves. While seemingly deeply flawed at times, *cough* Fitzroy *cough*, I wouldn’t want them to be any other way. They feel so real they’re practically jumping off the page (though not actually, thank goodness). Their interactions with each other are always entertaining, their cunning and conniving natures intrigue me. I’m glad that this is the start of a series as I can’t wait to see how the different relationships progress.
I’d highly recommend this series to anyone who’s interested in the following: Steampunk, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, a great read. Even if you don’t usually read the genres that this book covers, I’d recommend giving it a try. Heck, a week or so ago I wouldn’t have thought that I’d enjoy this read nearly as much as I did. It just goes to show, don’t judge a book by its cover. Sometimes it’s worth it to take a leap of faith.
Fitzroy is my favourite character. By far. I love his broody and mysterious ways. I love that he’s so adamant about not letting anyone get close to him, that he’s so willing to deny his own feelings. That he’s so clearly struggling to keep Charlie at arms length when he loves the attention she pays him. Heck, even though he knows that it’s a risk to keep her so near – a man can only deny his feelings for so long – he fights against the council’s wishes to have to stay at the manor. Not that he was going to be able to get rid of Charlie that easily.
While I’d like to say I’m not one to enjoy hot and cold romances – or fall for the tall dark and broody type – I have to admit that I adore them. The intimate moments between Charlie and Fitzroy make my heart flutter. Even before he was certain that Charlie was a girl, Fitzroy was gentle with her. He treated her with as much kindness as he was capable of, even after she shot him. The fact that he leaned into Charlie’s hand but then demanded she leave for showing him unwanted affection just made me turn the page faster. I can’t wait to see how she continues to break down his walls, even though he doesn’t want to have to worry about caring for anyone else, of having a weakness, someone to watch out for. This were much easier for him when he could go out and do what needed to be done without worrying about someone else – or that he needed to survive whatever mission he was sent on.
And then at the very end Charlie realizes that Fitzroy might be worried about her fraternizing with him, that he might be worried she could break through his carefully constructed walls. *swoon*
Of course, Charlie isn’t just a love struck woman. She’s pretty badass in her own right. I wouldn’t have the balls to steal a gun off someone and then use it. Especially not after being beaten by said someone’s compatriot. Or the balls to try and escape twice in one day. Though, to be fair, I’d have spread out my escape attempts so that the captors let their guard down.
Not to mention the fact that she never broke. She was beaten bloody by Gillingham and didn’t give anything away – not that she knew about Charlotte, not that she was Charlotte, and not even that she had necromancy powers. Even after being forced to share a room with Fitzroy she didn’t let on that she was a female and that it would be seen as inappropriate – she just demanded that she be allowed to wash and change without him being in the room (though this didn’t always work out for her).
Going into this read, I expected that there would be some correlation with the Dr. Frankenstein story – there being “made” creatures – but I didn’t expect it to be a retelling of the tale. I’m quite happy that it was a retelling as it was a unique take on a story I’ve always adored. Charlie actually being Frankenstein’s daughter was a twist that I didn’t see coming, though I probably should have after her “father” announced that she’d been adopted. I also enjoyed the fact that the monsters could be awoken though electroshock, but not controlled. Tying necromancy to the ability to control the monsters – and not just to being able to awaken them – was a really unique take on this tale. Archer did a fantastic job at making me love a tale I already enjoy even more than I had before.
I also adored the way that Charlie was able to forge relationship with everyone that surrounded her, even though she started off as a captive in their midst. Seth and Gus became decent associates with her before they found out she was a she, and after their revelation they managed to become friends with her. Even if Gus does find it hard whenever he remembers Charlie is a she even though she doesn’t act like a lady. And then we have Cook. While he doesn’t appear a lot in the story, he’s there when it’s important. He did manage to rescue her when the vicar tried to kill her – to expel the devil from inside her. So you see, Charlie managed to make some pretty decent friends. Even if they did start off as her captors.
While Dr. Frankenstein has been dealt with, I look forward to seeing what other curiosities appear in this world. Charlie unfortunately stumbled upon a grave robbing in daylight so that’s got to be something paranormal. While Fitzroy made it clear that Charlie will only be his maid from now on, I look forward to seeing how she’s able to help Fitzroy in his missions. I wonder what kind of mayhem they’ll stop next.