Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine and Tee MorrisPhoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine, Tee Morris
Narrator: James Langton
Series: Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1
Published by Harper Audio on August 9, 2011
Genres: Steampunk
Length: 13 hrs 46 mins
Format: Audiobook
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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 are vanishing, then reappearing, washing 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 disturbing 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!

Phoenix Rising was fun, but not quite good enough to hold my attention the whole time – like I found myself at the gym watching the captions on HGTV instead of listening to the story.

I think it’s a problem with the attitude of the book. It’s steampunk. Books is an archivist; Braun is kind of a female James Bond. They embark on solving a mystery that drove one of their colleagues literally insane. There are huge mechamen and an enemy intent on destroying England maybe – not sure. There’s an orgy and an escape from the dungeon. It’s absurd and would be amusing, if it felt like the story knew how silly it was, instead it seems to take itself seriously. Now, I listened to the audio, so I don’t know if that’s just the way the narration seemed and I would have found the whole think more tongue in cheek had I been reading it in print. I like over the top stories, as long as they realize they’re over the top. Does that make sense.

Don’t get me wrong, it is fun, a bit of brain candy. A bit of steampunk, a bit of adventure. The banter is fun and all the characters are well-done. A couple of these scenes, like a fight at the opera, were laugh out loud funny, but a couple, like the orgy, seemed slightly out of place.

Will I read the next one? Maybe, if it’s available from the library on audio and I have nothing else in line.

About Pip Ballantine

Born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand, Philippa is a writer and podcaster of fantasy fiction. Immersed in books from an early age, she moved onto to become a librarian. She’d been dreaming of being a writer since a teenager, but in the last ten years she’s devoted herself to it. Philippa currently resides in Manassas, Virginia with her husband and co-writer Tee Morris, their daughter and a clowder of cats who keep them all in line.

About Tee Morris

Tee Morris began his writing career with his 2002 historical epic fantasy, MOREVI The Chronicles of Rafe & Askana. In 2005 Tee took MOREVI into the then-unknown podosphere, making his novel the first book podcast in its entirety. That experience led to the founding of and collaborating with Evo Terra and Chuck Tomasi on Podcasting for Dummies and its follow-up, Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies.

In 2011, Tee returned to his first love—fiction—with the steampunk Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels, co-authored with Philippa Ballantine.

When he is not writing, Tee enjoys life in Virginia alongside Philippa Ballantine, his daughter, and their cats.


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