In the Time of Queen Victoria

Happy Victoria Day.

In the spirit of the day, I offer up as reading suggestions, novels published this year that are set in the time of Queen Victoria.

Lady of Ashes (M)
by Christine Trent

“In 1861 London, Violet Morgan is struggling to establish a good reputation for the undertaking business that her husband has largely abandoned.

She provides comfort for the grieving, advises them on funeral fashion and etiquette, and arranges funerals. Unbeknownst to his wife, Graham, who has nursed a hatred of America since his grandfather soldiered for Great Britain in the War of 1812, becomes involved in a scheme to sell arms to the South. Meanwhile, Violet receives the commission of a lifetime: undertaking the funeral for a friend of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. But her position remains precarious, especially when Graham disappears and she begins investigating a series of deaths among the poor. And the closer she gets to the truth, the greater the danger for them both…” – Publisher

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells (M)
edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

“Gaslamp Fantasy,” or historical fantasy set in a magical version of the nineteenth century, has long been popular with readers and writers alike. A number of wonderful fantasy novels, including Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and The Prestige by Christopher Priest, owe their inspiration to works by nineteenth-century writers ranging from Jane Austen, the Bronte and George Meredith to Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and William Morris. And, of course, the entire steampunk genre and subculture owes more than a little to literature inspired by this period. Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells is an anthology for everyone who loves these works of neo-Victorian fiction, and wishes to explore the wide variety of ways that modern fantasists are using nineteenth-century settings, characters, and themes. These approaches stretch from steampunk fiction to the Austen-and-Trollope inspired works that some critics call Fantasy of Manners, all of which fit under the larger umbrella of Gaslamp Fantasy.” – Publisher

Graphic Novel
Agent Gates and the secret adventures of Devonton Abbey : (a parody) (M)
written by Camaren Subhiyah ; illustrated by Kyle Hilton

Presenting a parody spin on the characters we know and love from the hit show Downton Abbey, this story is told through the eyes of the downstairs staff–especially one secretly badass valet John Gates, who turns out to be an undercover spy for Her Royal Majesty’s British Secret Intelligence Agency (the SIS). Gates and several other Devonton staffers are part of a nationwide top-secret division of operatives scattered throughout country estates, all supervised by (who else?) the Dowager Countess, a close personal friend of Queen Victoria herself. Armed with his own superpower–his limp disguises a steampunk titanium leg perfect for dispatching enemies of the crown–Gates’s mission is to protect Devonton Abbey from foreign spies, assassination attempts, and traitorous household staff, all while posing as the valet to the utterly clueless Lord Samson. Action-packed antics ensue, romance blossons, and, as usual, the downstairs crew continues to run the show…and always saves the day” – Publisher

Doktor Glass (M)
by Thomas Brennan

In an age of zeppelins and gyroplanes, atomics and horseless carriages, the Transatlantic Span is the industrial marvel of the nineteenth century. A monumental feat of engineering, the steel suspension bridge stretches across the Atlantic from Liverpool to the distant harbor of New York City, supported by no less than seven hundred towers. But in the shadows of its massive struts, on the docks of the River Mersey, lies a faceless corpse… Inspector Matthew Langton is still seized with grief when he thinks of Sarah, his late wife. Tortured by nightmares and afflicted by breathless attacks of despair and terror, he forces himself to focus on the investigation of the faceless man. The victim wears the uniform of the Transatlantic Span Company but bears the tattoos of the Boers–could there be a Boer conspiracy to assassinate Queen Victoria on the upcoming inauguration day of the Span? But the truth, as it begins to emerge, is far more bizarre than a political coup. As additional victims turn up–all with strange twin burn marks on their necks–Langton draws a connection between the dead man beneath the bridge and chilling rumors of the Jar Boys, soul snatchers who come under cover of night. Most frightening of all is the mythic and elusive Doktor Glass, who not only may be behind the illicit trade in souls…but may hold the key to what happened to the inspector’s own beloved wife on her deathbed..” – Publisher

Canadian Short Fiction – The Danuta Gleed Literary Award

Game of Thrones – Bedtime Stories