Shhhh!

I have a sekrit project in the works. It’s an author website. It is very sekrit. It’s an author website. It’s so very sekrit no it’s not it’s not ready to be seen by anyone yet.

It will definitely not be a place to showcase my writing, and be a bit more professional (but just a bit). She’s a lying liar who lies.

I’m just telling you this so I can be all smug and sekritive.

There will be cake. Lies!

Game Review: Alan Wake

“Alan, wake up!”

This is another one of those “I wanted to play this when it first came out but didn’t and then it was $4 on Steam so I figured what the heck, might as well try it” games.

In a nutshell, Alan Wake (developed by Remedy) is the story of a stressed out writer who heads to the small town of Bright Falls for a much needed vacation. When his wife is abducted, however, what was supposed to be a relaxing getaway turns into a nightmare. In his search, he comes across pages from a manuscript that he doesn’t remember writing. Is he going insane, or is there something darker at work?

Does this sound familiar at all? If you said “it sounds like a Stephen King novel,” then I don’t know how accurate that is because I’ve never read any of his novels, but they reference him a lot in the game. Anyways, Alan Wake tells its tale through an interesting episodic format. Each “chapter” in the game is an episode, and the six episodes in the game comprise “season one” of the show (presumably, the sequel will be season 2). It’s a neat way to structure a game (each “episode” also has its own credits theme).

In his search for his wife, Alan will inevitably face off against the Taken–people and objects possessed by the Darkness (no, not that Darkness). This is where the game’s Fight With Light system comes into play. Basically, you have a flashlight, your enemies can’t die until you make the Darkness go away, you shine the light on your enemies, and then when the Darkness dissipates, you shoot them, wash, rinse, repeat. Flare guns and flashbang grenades can instantly destroy the Taken. In addition, there will sometimes be more indirect ways that you can use to make short work of your foes. The combat system probably would have been much more interesting if it wasn’t so repetitive.

Here are the steps for killing most enemiesL

  1. Shine flashlight on enemies
  2. Keep backing away until the darkness disappears
  3. Fail to dodge thrown scythes because you are crap at dodging (or at least I was)
  4. Shoot
  5. Wash, rinse, repeat

At times, the game recommends that you run past the enemies and head to the next “safe haven” (a streetlamp or some such thing). The problem with this is that the developers decided to be “realistic” and Alan runs out of breath after a couple seconds of running. Since the Taken are much quicker, you will likely find yourself mobbed by axe wielding maniacs before you can get to safety, so it’s often better to shoot your way through or toss out a couple flares than just run for it. The game is also quite generous with ammo, and there were only a couple times where I found I had run out and needed to make a run for it. By the end of the game, you should have enough flashbang grenades and flares to clear out the final areas. Apparently I ended up switching the game to Hard at one point, and there were some tricky spots, but the game didn’t really seem that “Hard” to me (and I suck at shooting).

The story is a mashup of thriller and horror that is interesting even if the bare bones plot is one that everyone has seen before–your wife has been abducted! Go and save her! Blah blah blah. The cast of characters are typical friendly small town locals, comic relief in the form of Wake’s agent, Barry, and a very annoying FBI agent. I feel obliged to mention that two characters started a viking metal band in the 70s, and then they went crazy, but before that, they changed their names to Odin and T(h)or. Alan himself is…kind of a jerk….you would be too, if you were a stressed out writer. There isn’t so much “on screen” character development unless you read the manuscript pages.

See, over the course of the game, Wake will come across manuscript pages from the novel he doesn’t remember writing. Most often, these pages will tell of future events, but sometimes they give the game’s events from another character’s perspective. Unfortunately, many players probably won’t read them, which is a shame, because there’s a lot of stuff you might miss if you choose not to.

The game also has a ton of collectables. Coffee thermoses, alarm clocks, cardboard cutouts of Wake (which are kind of creepy, IMO), you can knock over piles of tin cans, flip on radios and TVs. If you happen to be the completionist type, this game will drive you nuts trying to find all the collectables. Nuts, I tell you!

The game will not take you that long to complete. Steam has me clocked at 16 hours without doing the DLC or using a walkthrough, and without going out of my way to collect things, so I would say it might take you about 20 hours if you’re looking for absolutely everything, I’m not sure how long it takes to do the DLC.

The environments in Alan Wake are really pretty. During the day, the forests are bright and colourful. At night, however, a fine mist covers everything, turning the familiar into the creepy. It’s very atmospheric and more than once a flickering shadow made me whip around with my flashlight to make certain that it wasn’t a Taken. Most of the music is licensed and used sparingly. The voice acting is….okay…although Alan’s voice actor sounds especially bored with the whole thing. I’ve definitely heard worse acting, though. I should also note that the game ran perfectly with no crashes on my clunky old system. The one thing I would say about the graphics is that it’s a shame that we mostly end up in forested areas, because I thought the game did a wonderful job recreating the claustrophobic conditions in that one mine portion.

Forests are all misty and creepy.

And I hate mine levels, so much.

Overall, I would say Alan Wake was a fun game. It had some tense moments, and told an interesting story even if the bare bones plot is horribly cliche and the combat is same-y. If you like a good horror/thriller story, give this one a try, especially if you can get it for $4 or less like I did.

The Thirteen Houses Project: Cereus

[TW: There will be discussion of ageism in this post.]

[Once a month for the next twelve months, I will be doing a post on the 13th of each month based on one of the Thirteen Houses of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers from Kushiel’s Legacy.]

As the first post in the Thirteen Houses Project, it makes sense to begin with Cereus House, as it was from that House that the Night Court proper grew. The dowayne (that is, the head of a House) of Cereus House represents the Night Court on the City of Elua’s judiciary.

The House motto is “All loveliness fades”.

The House canon is fragile, fleeting beauty. Some members of Cereus House find that when the blush of youth fades, a steel interior reveals itself.

Cereus House, to me, embodies the Buddhist concept of impermanence, that is, well, that nothing is permanent. All loveliness fades, nothing lasts forever, joy is fleeting. A flower will lose its petals and wither away.

No one understands the fragile nature of beauty better than Cereus House, but rather than bemoan that fact, they choose to celebrate it, believing that “Beauty is at its most poignant when the cold hand of Death holds poised to wither it imminently.” (from Kushiel’s Dart.

For me, Cereus’ canon is also about learning to accept aging as a natural part of the average human’s life cycle, even if I don’t necessarily like the process (although, yes, I am counting the days until menopause). I would say that Cereus House is the house of “aging gracefully” but TBH, I hate that phrase, I don’t know what it is about that phrase, and besides, I will totally age grumpily if I want to!

Another important aspect of Cereus House is the “silk hiding steel” aspect (note: apparently–at least, according to TV Tropes–“silk hiding steel” is one way to refer to a femme, while the opposite is true for a butch, but I’m digressing). In this culture, at least, there seems to be this perception that when you’ve reached a certain age, well, that’s it. My a-mom seems to think that people over a certain age are all idiots who don’t know how to work them newfangled televisions and computers, this is in spite of the fact that eighty-something mother-in-law is not only capable of using a computer, but regularly prints and shares photos with her friends. Ageist stereotypes like this are all over the place, and I definitely think it’s important to cultivate the inner “steel” and enjoy the blush of youth while it’s there.

Image: “Hylocereus undatus. Night-blooming cereus” by Brocken Inaglory (Wikipedia)

A Year of Service: The Thirteen Houses Project

In light of the recent kerfluffle, it seemed like an appropriate time for me to start this pop culture-inspired project that I’ve been holding off on since I first came up with it.

As you may or may not know, I’m a big fan of the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey. This project was inspired by the Year of Service, a year in which all priest/esses of the goddess Naamah–whose domain is sexuality–wander around Terre D’Ange, forbidden to refuse anyone who seeks them out of “true longing”. This is so they can better understand the sacrifice the goddess made when she slept with strangers so that Blessed Elua could eat. In return, Naamah blesses them with desire for each patron.

I thought this was a cool idea from the day I read of it, but as there would be….many issues….completing the Year of Service as written, some adjustments were in order. What I eventually decided on was a series of posts based on the Thirteen Houses of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, home of Terre D’Ange’s most prestigious courtesans, who ply their trade in the goddess’s service (although they are not priest/esses). So, for the next year, on the thirteenth of each month, I’ll be doing a post featuring one of the houses and giving you my thoughts on my interpretation of that house’s canon. Originally, I thought I’d assign each house one of the Thirteen Vanic Virtues. but they don’t all fit and besides, list ethics just aren’t my thing, I’ll bring them up if I find they’re relevant to the current post, though.

So that’s what I will be doing for the next year, starting today with Cereus House.

And of course, I’m always around to do free tarot readings for people. You can e-mail me at k r y h e a(at)y a h o o(dot)c o m (no spaces between letters). I was recently told a blind reading I gave was “pretty close”, but I can’t promise 100% accuracy.

Review: Daughters of Rome

And now for something completely different, a review of Daughters of Rome, a work of historical fiction with no magic in sight.

See? I can read things that aren’t SFF! I just choose not to most of the time, but every so often I need a change of scenery, so to speak, and this book was five bucks and had a pretty cover.

Man, I’m such a tool when it comes to pretty covers.

So, for those of you who haven’t read my earlier post entitled “Words! They Mean Things!” this book is set in Rome during the Year of the Four Emperors, a tumultuous time in Rome’s history when Emperors had a terrible habit of dying every few months. The book follows the lives of four women of the Cornelii: sisters Cornelia and Marcella, and their cousins Lollia and Diana. In a nutshell, Cornelia is the perfect Roman wife, married to Piso Licianus, the man everyone suspects will succeed Emperor Galba,  Marcella is the bookish one, Lollia collects husbands, and Diana is the free spirit who eats sleeps and breathes the chariot races.

If you know your Roman history, you know what’s going to happen next. In case you aren’t familiar with this period of Roman history, Piso comes down with a serious case of death by stabbing soon after being named heir. Cornelia, predictably, is devastated by the loss and shuts herself up in her room and throws vases at anyone who tries to enter. Meanwhile, Marcella shuts herself up in her room and writes histories of past Emperors, Lollia deals with her latest husband, and Diana passes time talking shop with the Reds faction of chariot racers.

To tell you the truth, this book just barely avoided the dreaded “Sturgeon’s 90%” label, because even though it has it’s flaws, it’s not really in the same class as Gatekeeper or Fifty Shades of Grey, but there are, as I see it, two major problems with this book.

The first problem is that the characters are all very one dimensional: Cornelia’s story is a “riches to rags” type shtick, the perfect wife who goes from nearly becoming Empress to a widow living in her brother’s house. Marcella is the bookish, intellectual observer type (more on this later), Lollia is a bit frivolous and is doted upon by her grandfather, and Diana’s life revolves around the stables. There’s little character development, for the most part, they stay consistent. This is also true for the secondary characters. In brief, Gaius, Cornelia’s brother and paterfamilias, is firmly crushed under his wife Tullia’s thumb. Tullia herself could charitably be called a “harpy” and is obsessed with propriety. There’s really no deviance from these character traits, and it gets really annoying after awhile.

The other issue I have with this book is (as I mentioned in the post linked above) the frequent use of anachronisms, which range from modern expressions to referring to stolae as “dresses” to some details which just didn’t sit right with me.

I’ve written before on suspending disbelief and how I can usually suspend disbelief to a point. I can accept, for instance, that historical fiction about women will probably be about more than constantly popping out babies, especially since Roman women had a fair degree of freedom (at least, when compared to places like Classical Athens). In this case, however, I went from “okay, I can accept that” to “wait, WTF?”

For instance, how is it that Diana can spend so much time around the Reds? Why does nobody really care that Lollia has been married and divorced or widowed five times? Why is Thrax wearing a cross and not a fish symbol? (I had to look this up, but the cross wasn’t widely used as a Christian symbol until Constantine.) Why does everyone just let Diana interrupt a wedding with a bloody sack containing a severed head in tow?

Don’t get me wrong, it makes for a good story, but overall there are several things that just didn’t sit right with me (also, I thought the “political intrigue” was lacking in subtlety) and it just didn’t feel very substantial, and it didn’t leave me wanting to read the other books in the series.

Writer Problems

Across the street from my house there’s an elderly couple who I’ve known since forever, because they do not have a computer (nor any idea how they work) I regularly print off the posts that their daughter makes on her blog (she travels all over the place with her husband).

Today, she called wanting to know the value of some stuffed animals she had bought ages ago. I brought the results of my search over to her house, and just when I was about to leave, this exchange occurs:

“How’s it going with the book?” she asks.

“Oh, fine,” I say. “I’m still waiting on the IRS to send me a tax number.”

“Well, let me know when it’s out! I want to read it!”

At this point, I was just like “Yeah, sure….” said my goodbyes, and left.

In case you need a refresher, the book in question is The Eldermaid, which is the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo. It is the baby that I nurtured for a month of frantic seat-of-my-pants writing.

It also has a love story (including a kiss) between two women, men casually mentioning that they have husbands, a God of Love with an aspect known as the Sadist (and another deity who is bigender) and other things that are, shall we say….unconventional….

A part of me thinks that I should go back and edit the thing to make it a little more palatable to a more “mainstream” audience: change the sex of a few characters, get rid of the type of spirit that’s causing the most issues (even though they are pretty important), and no more kinky sex for anyone, ever.

But, then it just wouldn’t be The Eldermaid, it wouldn’t be my book.

And anyways, I didn’t write it for my neighbour or my mother or my homophobic biomom.

I wrote it for me.

I know, this is pretty much sounding like authorial suicide. Relax, readers, I’m writing The Tithe-Boy for you, just to make you happy, but The Eldermaid is something I wrote for me, to prove to myself that I could do something with my life beyond being the eternal student.

And then other people said “I like what you have written and I want to read it!”

And I was just like “Wat”

And they were like “Yeah, publish it!”

So I was like “……Fine.”

And I guess I should have anticipated that if my friends and family hear that I wrote a novel, they will naturally want to read it, but at this point, the novel is done, I want to move forward. I want to work on the sequel (currently kicking around a bunch of names) and the billion other projects I really should get to in the next century.

Also, it kind of defeats the purpose of my choosing to self-publish, because I chose to do so for the simple fact that I wouldn’t have to compromise my creative vision because the publisher decides it’s “too queer” (or whatever) for their tastes (and also because I didn’t think any publisher would ever accept my work).

Ugh, this is almost as bad as writer’s block. Almost….

 

Words! They Mean Things!

Just so we’re clear, this is actually a writing post, not a Pagan-y post.

Currently, I am reading a book. You may have heard of it. it is called Daughters of Rome by Kate Quinn, and it’s a historical fiction novel set during the Year of the Four Emperors.

It’s also driving me batshit insane.

Now, I don’t have what it takes to do the amount of research that is necessary to write a good historical fiction novel, to tell you the truth, I’m horrible with dates, and I think I only passed that Medieval history course I took because my prof. was in a particularly good mood the day of my exam. (Medieval Studies, however, is another story.)

But I’ll tell you what really bugs me, as a person who isn’t particularly versed in historical things who knows a bit about Roman culture….

….the anachronisms.

Protip: Don’t say “dress” when you mean “stola“, especially don’t say the word “gown”, because these words, they mean things in a modern context.

This is a stola:

This is the first image that comes up for me when I search for “dress” using Google Image search:

and, since the text also uses “gown”. Here is the image for a gown:

The problem with using words like “dress” and “gown” to describe clothing like the stola is that even though the stola may technically be a dress, the word “dress” doesn’t quite convey the intended meaning, and, for me at least, it completely breaks my sense of immersion.

And really, readers aren’t stupid.

Seriously, even if a reader doesn’t know what a stola is, the context of the scene should give them some idea, and if they don’t know exactly what it is, they can at least come away with the thought that “Oh, I see, this is a piece of clothing….”

I experienced very much the same thing when I read one of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s books and didn’t know what a chemise was (it’s like a smock) but I could tell that it was an article of clothing from the context (in this case, it was removed during a sex scene).

It wasn’t explained to me, the author didn’t resort to using anachronisms, she just dropped the word in there and let me figure it out.

It’s especially annoying because, in my mind, if you set out to write historical fiction, you should go in expecting that you will need to do a ton of research, and I would think that that research includes looking at Roman clothing and figuring out ways to describe articles of clothing that don’t necessarily hinge on the use of anachronisms.

If I sound like I’m really annoyed with this small thing, it’s because it’s everywhere in this book. Everywhere.

A Friendly Reminder

I am not an elder (not being particularly old or experienced in the ways of my tradition). I don’t have twenty altars scattered throughout my house (actually, I don’t have ANY at all). I can’t be any more specific with my sources than “I think that was in the Lokasenna….somewhere….” I am not a godspouse, or a godslave, or much of a god-anything. You ask “Why should I trust your word?” and you know what? You shouldn’t. If you find that what I have to say is worthwhile, then it is.

I constantly fear that I’m pronouncing my deities’ names wrong.

While I’m on the subject, I should note that I did not learn any of this at my grandmother’s knee, I just read, a lot.

I’m not a big “label” person. I stopped adding labels when the entire label was too long to put on a business card.

Oh, by the way, I’d love to attend a religious festival AND an anime convention (comic books aren’t my thing) but the thing is that I can’t afford either.

I just thought I’d throw that out there.

This wasn’t brought on by anything in particular, I just feel the need to remind people that you really don’t need to be a godspouse or a godslave or an Ordeal Master or anything like that because, to be honest, I see people whining about how they don’t have awesome godphones or how no deity will marry them and I’m like “WHY WOULD YOU WANT SUCH A THING?! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU??”

Pagan Piety Survey

Elizabeth has a post with a survey up on Twilight and Fire about piety. Go and send some responses to it!

I’ve already sent an email, but I’m also going to post my responses publicly because I don’t give a shit if anyone sees them. The first three questions are just demographics type questions.

How long have you been Pagan/polytheistic?

About a decade now.

What is your tradition (i.e. Wiccan, reconstructionist Heathen, eclectic, etc.)

Vanatru

Do you have any patron gods/goddesses or deities you are especially close to? If so, who are They?

I wouldn’t call them “patrons” but I feel particularly close to Freyja and Njord

How do you define your own relationship(s) to the gods? For instance, do you view one or more of Them as your beloved or spouse, or are They more like parents to you? Do you consider Them friends, allies, mentors? All of the above? None of the above? How does this differ between variou gods?


Freyja is more of a friend/teacher, Njord seems to be quite “fatherly” towards me, but I wouldn’t call our relationship that of parent to child.

 

How do you define “piety” as it relates to Paganism/modern polytheism?

 

I see it as reverence, respect, and devotion directed towards deities, at times, towards spirits and ancestors (although I wouldn’r say that I pray to my ancestors).

 

Do you find this to be a useful or relevant term concerning your own relationship with the gods? Is it relevant to Paganism/modern polytheism in general?


I must confess, as a former Catholic, that I find the term archaic (in my Confirmation classes, the term was replaced with “reverence”). The word “piety” conjures up images of little old ladies dutifully praying the rosary five times a day, and I find “reverence” a much less loaded term in that regard.
 

Is it possible to be pious without an established dogma or authority? Why or why not?

I would say yes. Last I checked, no one elected a Vanapope when I wasn’t looking. There are those in my tradition who I would consider “elders”, but it’s not like they’re absolute authorities when it comes to what I believe and what I do.

 

Is there anything you consider impious (i.e. behavior, modes of worship)? Why?

I would generally say that praising one deity while disparaging other deities who are related to or allies of that deity is disrespectful (ex. going on and on about Freyr and then turning around and calling Freyja a slut).

I would also say doing things like turning a ritual to Freyja into a wet t-shirt contest, or treating all rituals like an excuse to party, not that every ritual needs to be really formal and srs bsns. though, but when you reach the point where people are treating rituals as a purely social occasion, I think there’s a problem.

 

Are you for or against the establishment and observance of rules about piety in your particular tradition and/or within Pagan/polytheist religion in general? Please explain your response.

Absolutely, completely, totally AGAINST this idea! This is a horrible idea! I think that groups in general should set their own rules for how to do things (and one should be a good guest and respect those rules) but when it comes to MY relationship with MY deities, all matters of belief and praxis are ultimately determined by me and my deities, not those I see as elders, or published authors, or the latest self-declared “Witch Queen” or “Asapope”. If my deities really have a problem with how I’m doing something, they can and will let me know.

 

Further comments, thoughts, observances?

I think a lot of the hand-wringing around piety comes down to common sense. For me, if I wouldn’t do something in the presence of an honoured guest, I probably shouldn’t do it when I’m engaging with deities. The one exception in my mind is if a deity tells you that something is okay. Using head-coverings is a good example, some may choose to wear them as a sign of respect, or perhaps the deities come from a culture where covering the head is normal. However, the same deity may order someone NOT to cover while they are at their shrine/altar, for whatever reason.
Regarding group practice, i would say it is important to follow the group’s policies. If that group uses a head-covering, get yourself a head-covering, you know? Common sense.

I think that there are those out there (not naming names here) who seem to have appointed themselves the “Pagan Police” and are bemoaning the fact that some people do things differently. I mean, I’ve done it myself at times, but the thing is, yelling at people that they’re doing it wrong does nothing to change what they do, if anything, it does the opposite, and, to be completely honest, I don’t think my deities really care that much. I think they have much bigger concerns than a few humans squabbling over whether it is appropriate to use the blue altar cloth on Wednesday, or whether so-and-so is using the correct ritual posture at their home shrine.

Review: The Constantine Affliction

My brother actually bought me this book for my birthday in January. I just finished it yesterday, that’s how long I’ve been distracted by my (ever-growing) pile of books.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear they’re reproducing.

The story is set in London in 1864, a London where strange monsters lurk in the Thames, Whitechapel is a walled off district where eternal alchemical fires burn, and clockwork courtesans service the….ahem….needs….of the male population in London in the wake of the mysterious Constantine Affliction, a disease which kills some and turns others into the opposite sex. The majority of the story is told from the perspective of two characters: Pembroke “Pimm” Halliday, an aristocrat who assists the police in investigations as a sort of hobby (when he’s sober, that is), and Ellie Skyler, an intrepid journalist who has to write under the pen name E. Skye in order to be taken seriously as a writer.

What begins as an investigation into the murders of working girls quickly becomes something with far-reaching consequences for London, the whole of England, and the world, but I’m sure you’ve figured that out already.

From the get go, Pimm reminded me of the Sherlock Holmes from the recent movies. He has a bit of that eccentricity, and while he does have a major vice (beverages of an alcoholic nature) the book doesn’t really dwell on this aspect of his character. Rather, the focus is on how his family is completely disappointed with the way he turned out. I mean, really, a younger son of a Marquess doing gasp! detective work! Scandal!

And then there’s his marriage, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

The second half of the Pimm and Skye duo is Eleanor Skyler (A.K.A. E. Skye) a journalist who is forced to write under a male pen name in order to garner any sort of cred as a “serious” journalist (because, you know, sexism). To sum up her character in brief, Ellie is interested in the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and she’ll do whatever she has to in order to get the full story–including cross-dressing in order to infiltrate a brothel with mechanical hookers.

There are also some really great secondary characters, we have Freddy (Winifred, who was born Frederick) Pimm’s best friend turned wife who turns out to be quite the tinkerer, Big Ben, who looks like your typical hired muscle until he opens his mouth and thoughtful discussions come tumbling out, Abel Value, the ruthless criminal with connections who blackmails Pimm into helping him, and Adam, a strange man who seems obsessed with finding love (where “finding love” means “trying to bring dead women back to life using the power of science) among others. I never felt like any of these characters “stole the show” from the mains, but that they were definitely interesting and compelling in their own right.

The one thing that makes this book something a bit more than your typical “they fight crime!” story is the Constantine Affliction itself, the disease which turns men into women and vice versa. One of the victims of the affliction is Freddy, Pimm’s best friend (now wife) who he married both to mollify his family and protect Freddy from scandal. The Affliction, predictably, has caused quite a bit of scandal, with some of the afflicted going into hiding or trying to “pass” as their true gender and others (women, mostly) embracing the change and creating new lives for themselves as men.

Unfortunately, while the book does a good job of dismantling sexism and trying to answer the question “Are men and women so different?” I agree with Fangs for the Fantasy’s review when they point out that there’s no in-depth discussion of  dysphoria and other gender identity issues, which seems like an obvious issue with all the gender-swapping going on, but no, other than brief mentions of some trying to “pass”, it isn’t discussed at all (although Freddy does at times express frustration with sexism). This is further complicated by victims of the Affliction being legally seen as the sex they were assigned at birth (which, Pimm remarks, can lead to marriages between two women–one having been born a man pre-Affliction) but again, that’s not the focus of the narrative. It’s a shame, really, because the book had the potential to be very queer while it was dismantling sexism and classism and talking about ethics in science and technology. There are also a few rather glaring spelling and grammatical errors that apparently slipped the copy-editor’s notice (in one case, substituting “Pimm” for the name of the Big Bad, which was pretty confusing).

I could go on about how the book handles ethics and science and the idea of progress, but I don’t want to give you the impression that the book is heavy-handed regarding any of the subjects it brings up. You still have daring escapes from clockwork brothels! Criminal masterminds! Steampunk goodness! Chickens! (Actually, there are no chickens, sorry, I just wanted to end with something more mundane.)

The Constantine Affliction is a fun romp through a warped Victorian London, and despite its flaws, I enjoyed my time with it and would like a sequel, right now. Check it out if you think Sherlock Holmes x Frankenstein x H.P. Lovecraft with a whole lot of  gender-swapping sounds like an intriguing mashup, especially if social commentary is something you like in your novels without the novel beating you over the head about it.