Series: Crown & Key, Book 1
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Historical Urban Fantasy/Steampunk
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.
As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.
After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.
The Shadow Revolution is imaginative and exciting, a story with tons of action and endless possibilities. Clay and Susan Griffith’s first installment of the Crown & Key trilogy has a lot to recommend it, though often the ideas are better than the execution. Werewolves, sadistic villains, and human-automata hybridization experiments are a lot to tackle in one book, and when you add in the introduction of a handful of strong personalities, the result is an intriguing, if somewhat choppy story. Simon, Kate, Malcom, Nick, and Penny are all interesting characters, none of whom quite get the attention they deserve because there is so much going on. I hope the second and third Crown & Key books delve more into their characters, for there’s a lot to unpack. Simon is a scribe, a powerful magician with a rare ability. He’s also a weary playboy who keeps his true nature hidden, until a werewolf attacks and he’s thrown in the path of Kate Anstruther and Malcolm MacFarlane. Malcom is a sometimes-brooding werewolf hunter with neat weapons and a backstory we don’t really get into (I assume that will change in future stories). Kate, in turn, is an alchemist and an unusual female (for the era) who’s not afraid to go toe-to-toe with anyone. The three form an alliance to defeat the werewolf threat, only to discover that werewolves are the least of their problems. Supernatural creatures unlike any the world has seen threaten London, and it’s up to our heroes and their allies to uncover the conspiracy and save the day.
The action doesn’t stop in The Shadow Revolution, which makes it a fast-paced read. As I mentioned before, the frantic pace doesn’t leave too much time for depth or character development, but that doesn’t mean the story isn’t enjoyable. Mr. and Ms. Griffith aren’t afraid to make things dark and gory, and the overall tone of the book draws you in. The Victorian-era London setting adds to the ambiance, though the characters don’t really act like they’re in the nineteenth century.
The Shadow Revolution has its ups and downs, but I do think the series has a lot of potential. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for Simon, Kate, and Malcolm in the next Crown & Key book, The Undying Legion.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.