Series: The Immortal Empire, #1
Author: Kate Lock
Pages: 354 (Hardcover)
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Queen Victoria rules with an immortal fist.
The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns.
Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key-the prize in a very dangerous struggle.
I was expecting a Steampunk setting, but that is not what I got at all. The only thing "alternative" about this London is that Victoria is still on the throne, women still wear corsets, and men wear cravats. This honestly felt like modern day anywhere with its flashlights, cell phones, motorcycles and alarm systems. Of course, none of these modern commodities are called by their modern names, but they're still there (there's a glossary in the back of the book!). Like I said, the only thing old fashioned is the fashion, and that was not enough to make this Steampunk. In fact, the world building probably would have felt more complete if it had been a modern day London with an undead Victoria as queen.
Once I started thinking of it that way I was able to enjoy it more. I was still thrown off by mentions of Sid Vicious, MP3 players, and television though. Unfortunately, about 200 pages in I couldn't take it anymore: there was a reference to the Die Hard movies. I just could not accept that this "alternate" history somehow ended up being exactly like today, right now. There is no way. Nothing is different except that the fashion is slightly updated Victorian fashion. Maybe this was suppose to be a unique twist in the setting, but it was bothersome and not creative at all.
The way paranormal creatures came to be was interesting though. Basically it's all due to a mutation caused by the Black Plague, and paranormality runs in the Aristocracy (with the occasional lower class woman giving birth to a "halvie," of course). It's a unique idea, a little confusing on the specifics, but still an interesting twist on the origin of vampires, werewolves, and goblins.
The author's writing was fine, but there was a MAJOR over-usage of hyphens - in almost every paragraph. Sometimes it was something important that shouldn't have been an aside - but mostly it was random, useless tidbits. A lot of the time there was simply no grammatical need for the hyphens at all - a simple comma or "and" would do. The book could have been significantly shorter if all of those extra phrases were cut out - they slowed the story way down.
Xandra is supposedly 22, but from the first few pages I assumed she was maybe 15, with a potty mouth. If you clean up her language some, she does seem younger, but that may be due to her reckless and stubborn personality. I did like how she was fiercely loyal to her missing sister, Dede, and also to her queen, whom she is a guard for. She's also not one to take anything at face value, or believe everything she's told. Although this sometimes makes her look paranoid and ignorant. Oh, and she also proudly states that she's a bigot at one point. Bottom line: she's unlikeable.
As for the plot, I mostly enjoyed it. It starts off as Xandra trying to find her sister and the reasons behind her disappearance. Then it morphs into some conspiracy involving the Aristocracy, and somehow Xandra is unknowingly in the center of it. While I did want to know what the heck was going on and how all of these deaths, disappearances and missing records were related, I was super distracted by my disappointment in the setting. I know I already dedicated two paragraphs to it, but I was really looking forward to vampires in a Steampunk world, and that isn't even close to what God Save the Queen really is - a major disappointment. The last 60 or so pages kept this one being a total disaster, but I can't honestly recommend it.
Was this review helpful? If so, please vote yes on Amazon.