I wish I had read this novel closer to the release date as while most reviews kept the mystery of the Aegolius Club a secret, one review I opened gave it away in the first sentence. I would have liked to discover this for myself. [sigh]. On the other hand, the mixed reviews for this novel are probably due to the fact the publishers were cryptic with what was to unfold, no doubt annoying some readers who were after a hearty and traditional Victorian romp.
Victorian England: James and Charlotte are siblings living on a rambling Yorkshire estate. James travels to London to try his hand at being a writer and one night he is drawn into the Aegolious club, a club for the wealthiest and most influential men in London. When the club’s membership rules change, tensions with a faction in the East End exacerbate.
First Impressions: This novel certainly has a Victorian Gothic tone – elaborate dusty libraries, remote estates with peculiar staff… I really enjoyed reading about Charlotte and James’ childhood. It reminded me a little of The Thirteenth Tale.
Highlights: The Gothic tone was kept throughout and for the most part it had all the features of a great Victorian novel, perhaps in the vein of Wilkie Collins and the sensation novel. There probably wasn’t one particular section of the novel that stood out for me but I did rather enjoy the early parts that set the scene.
If I was an editor: I would wonder if the ending was as taut as it could have been. It fits the style of the Victorian novel with loose ends being wrapped up but I probably would have preferred a sharper ending. As I expected, one loose end is not wrapped up but this could have been got to quicker. Too much time passed in too short a number of pages which meant the intrigue was lacking.
Overall: A good story. This is the first 0.5 review I have given as I really can’t decide! Not for everyone but I enjoyed it.
The Quick: 3.5 stars
Thank you to Random House (Vintage) for a copy of the ARC to review.