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Steampunk Mystery Review: New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear

New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear (New Amsterdam #1)


Synopsis from Goodreads
Abigail Irene Garrett drinks too much. She makes scandalous liaisons with inappropriate men, and if in her youth she was a famous beauty, now she is both formidable--and notorious. She is a forensic sorceress, and a dedicated officer of a Crown that does not deserve her loyalty. She has nothing, but obligations. Sebastien de Ulloa is the oldest creature she has ever known. He was no longer young at the Christian millennium, and that was nine hundred years ago. He has forgotten his birth-name, his birth-place, and even the year in which he was born, if he ever knew it. But he still remembers the woman who made him immortal. He has everything, but a reason to live. In a world where the sun never set on the British Empire, where Holland finally ceded New Amsterdam to the English only during the Napoleonic wars, and where the expansion of the American colonies was halted by the war magic of the Iroquois, they are exiles in the new world--and its only hope for justice.
Amazon US | Amazon kindle US/UK


* * *
Elizabeth Bear is a prodigious fantasy author, and while this is my first read by her, it's by no means the last. She is exquisite, meticulous with her world-building and full of convoluted ideas and characters which is exactly what I love in my authors.

New Amsterdam is a great steampunk mystery blending the paranormal into murdery investigations of all sorts with a fantastic skill. Don't be fooled by the synopsis into thinking that there is this great romance between Sebastien and Abigail Irene. These two are both larger than life characters and their interactions tend to be about a careful balance between their personalities, secrets and intrigues.

Sebastien flees Europe with his young assistant, Jack, (and yes, because he is a vampire, Jack is his occasional lover and food supply) and goes to America where vampires are still illegal. While in Europe he is a famous detective, in New Amsterdam he has to tread carefully offering his services to a local forensic sorceress, Abigail Irene Garrett, to help solve crimes.

Abigail Irene is a much older woman than I would have expected (but I loved it about her) who has her own trail of secrets and powerful ex-lovers but her position in the colonies on the brink of war for independence as an Officer of the Crown is just as tricky as Sebastien who can be put to death if his secret is out.

This book is a collection of short stories about their interactions, so you can expect plenty of action, and the characters relationship will develop in leaps with each story. They are also interspersed with an amazing crew of secondary characters - young Jack, a Hungarian with a talent for languages and dangerous intrigues; a scandalous American writer, widow Phoebe Smith; Duke Richard and Prince Henry... The action takes us from New Amsterdam to Boston and at last Paris.

All in all, while the writing holds back and doesn't spill emotions all over the pages, the mere glimpses of them are powerful, and the whole package - the language, the world-building, the characters - make for a hell of a captivating story! Recommended.

* * *
Я впервые взяла в свои руки книгу Элизабет Беар, несмотря на то, что она довольно известный автор фэнтэзи, и не пожалела! Пишет она прекрасно, несмотря на то, что слог довольно сдержан и сух. Эмоции персонажей не растекаются по всей книге,но их проблески то здесь то там режут по душе гораздо сильнее.

Не обращайте внимание на синопсис - Себастьен и Абигаль Ирэн - не романтические персонажи с трагической историей любви. На самом деле книга разделена на 6 коротких историй, в ядре каждой из которых расследование убийства с мистическими корнями.

Себастьен - очень старый вампир, прославившийся  в 19 веке в качестве детектива. Когда он начинает подумывать о том, чтобы встретить солнце, он сбегает в Америку, где вампиризм нелегален, и оставляет весь свой энтураж в полной растерянности. Только одному из них, молодому и амбициозному Джэку, удаётся уехать вместе с ним.

Абигаль Ирэн - немолодая детектив-маг и офицер Короны в Колониях с чередой могущественных бывших любовников и множеством секретов,однако её позиция в Новом Амстердаме также шатка как и у Себастьена, ибо Колонии находятся на грани войны за независимость.  Их сотрудничество начинается с одним странным убийством и понемногу превращается в дружбу и любовную связь.

Истории переносят нас из Нового Амстердама в Бостон и наконец в Париж и знакомят с потрясающими второстепенными персонажами, множеством интриг и тщательно построенным увлекательным миром. Очень советую, мои дорогие! Читала, несмотря на сухой слог, с большим удовольствием!

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