I have to say I was disappointed by this. It wasn’t awful, not by a long way, but it wasn’t perfect either. There were some aspects I liked, and I’ll talk about those before getting into the rest.
First off, I loved the settings. The story travelled through Paris, Oxford, Venice, Budapest, and on to Constantinople. I could imagine all of these, and they were described well. It was fun to go on an early twentieth century tour of Europe.
Elle was a strong character, though this strength tailed off a little by the end. Her feelings jumped all over the place sometimes, but I liked that she didn’t just wait for the guy to make a move, and she didn’t always listen to what he said.
On to the bad, and I’m going to have to make a list.
1. Elle is advertised (is that the right word?) as a pilot. A dirigible pilot. She takes one short flight, then a brief one a little later, but most of the time she is on the ground.
2. There was no pace or tension. Her father had been kidnapped, but she was happy to stop off for a picnic, or have a nice dinner in Venice.
3. Marsh (the guy) is not that interesting. He seems to order Elle around quite a bit, and I didn’t really see where the love came from. Perhaps a little Insta-love here?
4. It tried to do and include a lot of things (Vampires, fairies, airships, magic, Oracles), and it felt like some of them were just novelties, with no real meaning to their presence.
5. STOP EATING AND DRINKING TEA! How are you going to fit into your corset if you keep eating? And yes, the British do like tea, but it doesn’t mean you have to mention it all the time! At one point, Marsh was drinking tea, someone stopped by and said ‘meet me later at this tea house’, and so to pass the time, Marsh goes to another tea house.
The thing is, I didn’t hate this book. If I forgot the flaws, it was quite enjoyable. And maybe most of those came from my editor mindset anyway. If I saw the sequel in the library, I would pick it up to see where it goes next, and which countries. It’s clear this was setting up for grander things to come, as it’s the first of a trilogy, so it’s probably going to fix my fourth point above. If you like adventure and the Orient Express, pick this one up.
One last point – try to read the end without thinking of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and the Kali death chant. It kept making me giggle.
Thanks to Netgalley for a review copy.