All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn

on January 17, 2018

A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell #3)
Deanna Raybourn
2018, 352p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker. His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.

But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past. Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. . . .

Ever read a book where, while you are reading it, it’s super fun and entertaining and you’re like ok, well there are a few quibbles but mostly I am enjoying this immensely but then after you have finished it, in the days before you sit down to write the review you find you’re like, well that bit was kind of irritating and well, why did that even happen and hmm, how come that never went anywhere?

That’s kind of how I feel about this book.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Deanna Raybourn. I’ve read an awful lot of her books – all the Lady Julia’s, the couple of weird ones that came after them, and the three in this series. Sometimes her writing is perfection and other times we’re stuck in the same rut we were 15 books ago. To be honest, Lady Julia and Brisbane are a much better pair that Veronica Speedwell and Stoker. Veronica is a person passionate about several things, so passionate that it’s all they talk about and they incessantly keep reminding you of it. In her case it’s that she’s not a typical Victorian lady and she has a free and healthy attitude towards the pleasures of the flesh. And Stoker is like a buttoned up Victorian virgin half the time, constantly scandalised by Veronica’s remarks and casual suggestions that they just indulge themselves. And then the other half of the time he walks around half naked in front of her, which doesn’t entirely fit with the era or his repressed character either.

To be honest, I didn’t really buy Stoker and Veronica being asked to investigate the mystery in this book, especially as it concerns Stoker’s ex-wife who divorced him for cruelty and spread such vicious rumours that he ended up some sort of social pariah. I loved the Egyptology stuff though and really enjoyed learning about that. I know that it was an interest to rich people in this time frame who hared themselves off to digs and brought back vast amounts of relics to England. It was quite a social event to reveal a mummy or display ones collection. These days of course, you can’t whip items of historical significance back to your private home and instead all items found belong to the country they’re in and are studied for anthropological reasons or displayed in public museums. I was super interested to know more about Stoker’s former wife because he’s so messed up over it. He can barely utter her name (except you know, that one time in the previous book) and has studiously avoided the topic. Now the topic is back to potentially cause him even more damage although to be honest, a lot of that seemed to be stretching.

We’re three books into this series now and things between Stoker and Veronica aren’t really progressing as fast as I would like. I don’t want to compare to the previous series, but there’s no doubt that things went a little faster there. Perhaps Raybourn feels that was a mistake, like things took a dive when Brisbane and Lady Julia were married. However given Veronica’s constant bleating about not being like other women of this time, you wouldn’t assume that the second anything happens between them, they’ll have to wed. I’d like something to happen though. I feel as though I’m being strung along, like this is one of those series’ where things almost happen but then something happens to prevent it in Like the Stephanie Plum series, but with corsets. Although even Steph does get action, precious more than what either Veronica or Stoker are getting at the moment. Both of them are unconventional, I don’t expect a typical Victorian courtship/romance. But they’re in such close proximity. The chemistry is (most of the time) there. Make it happen. Or at least, make it progress. Somewhere.

It probably sounds like I didn’t like this at all and it’s not true. I did like it. Especially when I was reading it. Raybourn’s mysteries are always entertaining, even when they stretch plausibility. It’s just in finishing it, I’ve realised that there are things that frustrate me, particularly the feeling like the series isn’t really going anywhere. Who knows, maybe we had to face Caroline and sort that out before Stoker could truly move on but to be honest, that confrontation wasn’t particularly engaging. I do think that Stoker and Veronica make a really interesting team and Stoker seems more accepting of Veronica’s involvement and the partnership than he was earlier. I just want it to pick up the pace a bit.


Book #8 of 2018


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