by Pip Ballantine, Tee Morris
Series: Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1
Published by: HarperCollins
Narrator: James Langton
Length: 13 hrs and 45 mins
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
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 the first book in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. I found it to be brilliant on audio. From the narrator to the steampunk I was swept up in the action. Mini review: Fantastic characters, brilliant steampunk and a plot that kept me thoroughly entertained.
Have you ever met a duo and immediately felt their connection. Such was the case when I met Eliza D. Braun, a ballsy field agent from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences; a secret organization for the Crown, who investigates mysterious activities, and their archivists, Wellington Brooks. Their banter, skills and interaction was absolutely engaging. The two seemed oddly paired until they began investigating an unsolved case that involved Eliza’s former partner.
Eliza has a thing for weapons, and she is deadly in the field. She is also impulsive which has a tendency to be frowned upon by the Ministry. She is from New Zealand and dreams of going home, but finds herself on desk duty. She is complex, witty and intelligent. Wellington while trained as field agents prefers the neat and orderly halls of the archives. He is stuffy, brilliant and dots every I. Eliza is both Wellington’s undoing and savior. The villains were dark, mysterious and unsavory. They consist of two secret societies; the Phoenix Society and the House of Asher. They brought some interesting characters and gadgets to the mix. Secondary characters from street urchins to management all added to the tale.
Phoenix Rising oozed with steampunk gooey goodness. From Eliza’s weapons to the archives we encountered there were gadgets from the simple to complex. The authors did an excellent job of describing them, and I often felt like I was right in the room with the characters and impressive machinery. Ballantine and Morris delivered an engaging plot with an ebb and flow that provided intense action scenes and moments that allowed us to glean information and understand their characters. The overall story ARC is a small thread woven into the tale that has me curious and eager for more. While there is no romance, we do feel a connection developing between our main characters, one that has me itching for more. The case wrapped up nicely, and I look forward to The Janus Affair the next book in the series.
James Langton was absolutely amazing as the narrator. He brought both Eliza and Wellington to life. Through him, they came to life from their gestures to pitch as he conveyed the feelings. He seamlessly delivered punch lines and the snark that made this tale so entertaining for me.
Phoenix Rising was such a brilliant listen. I laughed, felt for the characters and became swept up in the chase. I am so glad I chose to listen to the audio version and plan to continue. Currently there are six books in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series as well as few Tales from the Archives novellas.
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