Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Review: Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising
A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel

By:  Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Publisher:  Harper Voyager

Publish Date:  May 2011

Format:  Paperback, 402 pages; pocketbook size

Genre:  Fiction, Fantasy; steampunk

Series:  1st in A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series

Recommendation:  Yes, there is a great mix of steampunk and wonderfully fun dialect with the characters, all in this mystery read.

Book Synopsis:
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 and vanishing, then reappearing, washin 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 disturing 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!

First Sentence:
Wellington Thornhill Books, Esquire, had never heard an explosion that close before.

My Thoughts and Summary:
Wellington Thornhill Books meets the lovely Eliza D. Braun as she is saving his arse from being tortured, by booming the place.  But Eliza has a secret about saving Wellington.  Agents Books and Braun work for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences in different fields of the company.  They each have strong personalities and feelings for the areas they excel in.  Street agents and the archivist see each other as two different components.  But, for their exceedingly strong believes they are paired up as new partners, in "Books" archives.  Yet Agent Braun wants nothing more than anything to be back in the field blowing up something with her favorite weapon, dynamite.  Miss Eliza Braun has a hard time at adjusting to being in the Archives trying to file the many magical items and cases away, so Mr. Wellington Books takes her to show her something new deeper in the Archives ~ Cases of the Unknown.  After seeing hundreds of cases classified as Cases of the Unknown (Books opinion of words) Agent Braun decides with her abilities in the field and Books intelligence here in the Archives and basic training, to take on these cases.  When Eliza comes across a case in filing that she recognizes as one her last partner had worked and ended up in the mental hospital over, she decides to do as he had done and pick up the case on her personal time.

I think I can go on and on about this book.  It was so well written and so many different aspects that I enjoyed.

The book starts right in with a bang with action and bullets flying every which direction as the main characters meet.  Then we step back a bit to have the world of The Ministry drawn for us to understand what they do and the set up of it.  We learn the Archives, in the basement of the Ministry's office building, is a library of sorts and storage area for many peculiar items and past case information, almost magical items.  The Archives even reminds me a little of the television show Warehouse 13 on the SyFy channel with the warehousing of magical.  While we are learning of the Archives we are also getting to know the characters and the rough blend of personalities, but I have to say I love the give and take in jabs between these two.  Once they talk of the Cases of the Unknown we see how Eliza then Books get drawn to one particular case.  Before they realize it they are eyeballs deep in the investigation.  Then we have another addition to the mix as the House of Usher is after Agent Books for reasons we are not yet aware of.

The characters are fun!  Books is the gentlemanly kind of man, not one who thinks of loads of weapons, but one to get lost in the design of things and the puzzle in figuring them out.  Books is one that loves the steam machinery and pully machinery, which is ever present in this book.  Eliza is a kick arse ask questions later kind of woman.  Eliza is the one who loves weapons and to make things go boom.  Books even references her once, to himself as he is so gentlemanly, as the Angel of Destruction.

Some might say the book has a slow start or moves slow after the bang of a beginning in the first chapter.  However, I have to say it's a perfect balance of action, fun and case building/solving for me.  And the dialect and writing styles is a pleasure to read.  This is a book to sit down with and enjoy from all angles; world building, characters, case solving ~ all for the style, fun, and mystery of it.

I will be looking forward to the next book with these characters and steampunk world.  But until then I will be listening to the podcasts of different cases in the Cases of the Unknown section of the Archives.

If you would like to listen as well, you can do so HERE at The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences podcast page.
If you would like to check out the main site for The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, you can HERE.  There are tabs to learn more about the book and characters.

I received this book from the publisher for review.

This book qualifies for the Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Floor to Ceiling Books.


  1. Oooh, thanks for this review! This book is already on my TBR list, but it's great to confirm once again that it's worth reading ;)

  2. Thank you so much for enjoying our first adventure and for giving a bit of love to the podcast! Episode Six, A Ruby in Rain, drops tomorrow. We hope you continue to enjoy more of these "lost cases" from the Archives.

    See you for the next ride with Eliza and Wellington, coming soon...

  3. Ooo, you know I actually had this book in my hands at the weekend and now I wish I hadn't put it back! Will be straight back at the weekend to pick it up! :)

  4. Great review. I would like to read this book, sounds good, and sounds like something I would read :D

  5. Oh this sounds so good. I'm so glad I have it on my tbr! :) Great review. I'm almost there to read it! Whee!

  6. Kara-karina - THank you for stopping by! And so glad to hear you have this one on the TBR list. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. :)

    Tee Morris - Hi! Thank you for stopping by. :) Oh, I'm starting to get addicted to these quick pod casts. They are wonderful! I'll be trying to get caught up with them here the next few weeks. We have school picnic day, so maybe I can get a few in then too. :) Thank you and looking forward to the next Eliza & Wellington adventures!

    Mel - Oh Mel, I do hope you go back to get it and enjoy it as much as I have. :)

    Blodeuedd - Oh, this was a wonderful delight for me. I really liked the change of pace for this book. Do hope you enjoy it if you get it. :)

    Melissa (Books&Things) - Oooo, so glad you have this one and getting close to reading it. :) Can't wait to see what you think! :)

  7. I'm so curious about this one. The whole setting and world sounds really fascinating.

  8. This sounds like a fantastic book and after seeing how much you enjoyed it I definitely plan on reading it myself.

  9. Great review! I'm starting to see this one around and have mixed feelings about it, but you make me want to go out and grab a copy ASAP!

  10. SusiSunshine - Hi! Thank you for stopping by! :) I hope you get the chance to enjoy this one, and do enjoy it. :) It is really neat and a great setting.

    Simcha - Thank you! :) I really liked this whole book and there are threads here that make me want to read more, just to learn more. :) They did a wonderful job with this book. :) Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    Alexia - Oh, thank you! :) And I do hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. :)


Sorry, got 106 spam comments in less than 24hrs. Had to turn on again.

I love comments! Please share your thoughts. I will respond here in the comments back to you.

I'll try again without word verification, but if Spammers get out of hand again I'll turn it back on.

Thank you for visiting!