Read, Review, Repeat

Pretty much what's on the box. I've got an ever increasing library and a desire to say I've read at least 75% of the books on my shelves. So, read, review, repeat.

4/5; would recommend

Creatures of Will and Temper - Molly Tanzer

Victorian London is a place of fluid social roles, vibrant arts culture, fin-de-siècle wonders . . . and dangerous underground diabolic cults. Fencer Evadne Gray cares for none of the former and knows nothing of the latter when she’s sent to London to chaperone her younger sister, aspiring art critic Dorina.

At loose ends after Dorina becomes enamored with their uncle’s friend, Lady Henrietta “Henry” Wotton, a local aristocrat and aesthete, Evadne enrolls in a fencing school. There, she meets George Cantrell, an experienced fencing master like she’s always dreamed of studying under. But soon, George shows her something more than fancy footwork—he reveals to Evadne a secret, hidden world of devilish demons and their obedient servants. George has dedicated himself to eradicating demons and diabolists alike, and now he needs Evadne’s help. But as she learns more, Evadne begins to believe that Lady Henry might actually be a diabolist . . . and even worse, she suspects Dorina might have become one too.

Combining swordplay, the supernatural, and Victorian high society, Creatures of Will and Temper reveals a familiar but strange London, in a riff on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that readers won’t soon forget.


Creatures of Will and Temper is an engaging book that takes the reader on a journey fueled by desire and passion. This book invites readers to appreciate beauty in its many forms and asks them just how far they’d be willing to go to experience life like never before. What sacrifices would they make to live a life that transcended the mundane? How far would they go to achieve their deepest wish?


Molly Tanzer has a pleasant writing style and is able to transport readers to a version of Victorian London that is overflowing with sensation. Her characters are nuanced, her descriptions vibrant, and her plot - while simple - is enjoyable and compelling.


I enjoyed reading Creatures of Will and Temper; one of my favorite parts of reading well developed characters is sussing out the things they’re hiding before we - as readers - are given that information. Even more delightful is when I am able to uncover a piece and still be surprised by the depth of said secret. Tanzer managed to accomplish just that, with carefully placed hints leading to a satisfying reveal.


Overall, I would gladly recommend this book to fans of adventure, the supernatural, and romance. The beginning is a bit slow, with the first third of the book dedicated primarily to character development. This becomes a bit of a detriment when one of the point-of-view characters is hard to stomach but as we enter part two and the plot begins to move along I found myself more willing to endure said character. So, while the beginning was slow, the middle was enjoyable, the climax exciting, and the ending satisfying.

Part 2 Finished: Continued Impressions

Creatures of Will and Temper - Molly Tanzer

Things certainly picked up in Part Two! It’s in this section that we’re introduced to the plot. The characters we met in part one continue to develop, and there are new characters introduced, but for those less interested in character development, this is probably where the story really starts.


Briefly, I’ll update you on how our point-of-view characters have developed for me:


Lady Henry: remains my favorite; she is nuanced, with part two giving us more insight into the intricacies of her personality and philosophies. While both Dorina and Evadne are largely struggling against external forces, Lady Henry’s battles are internal as doubt, guilt, grief, and desire vie for supremacy.


Dorina: The more we see of Dorina, the more I appreciate her tenacity and hunger for knowledge and new experiences. That being said, in any situation that level of passion, absent restraint, can be dangerous. In a Victorian Gothic novel, it can be disastrous. Dorina encompases the experience of many young adults, trying to discover who they really are and what they want out of life. At times, her surety about her desires is shaken and she questions herself, at other times, she plows ahead and accepts any challenge she comes across. Where Lady Henry personifies the appreciation of an experience, Dorina is  that experience.


Evadne: Well, the man has appeared and she has become more bearable for his influence. However, I am never satisfied. I have made predictions concerning Evadne’s point-of-view arc and have put them on record with a friend so I won’t put them here for fear of spoilers but let me simply say that I think something is afoot. Evadne, as a character, is a good foil for Lady Henry and Dorina; all three are intense and passionate but the passions of Evadne are hard and violent (metaphorically as well as literally) compared to the softer, but in many ways equally energetic passions of the other two.


If I had to assign a cardinal sin to each of our point of view characters (and I’m going to, because: demons…) I would say Lady Henry is pride, Dorina is lust, and Evadne is wrath. I was tempted to assign Evadne envy, but I think, if it comes down to it, wrath would win the day.


Now, the plot! It is still heavily character driven, with each POVs ambitions and desires driving the plot more than any external device or entity. It is not a particularly complicated plot; it’s largely spelled out in the synopsis and though it promises to be an engaging and interesting journey to reach conclusion, I don’t expect to be significantly surprised before we get there.


As I mentioned above, I will refrain from posting my predictions on character or plot developments here for fear of being proven right and accidentally spoiling something. However, I am recording them and sending them to a third party, and may make a separate post for them before I finish the book.


Overall, I would still recommend this book to anyone with a penchant for the Victorian Gothic genre. I’m thoroughly enjoying myself, especially as the pace of the story has increased.

Part 1 Finished; impressions so far

Creatures of Will and Temper - Molly Tanzer

Overall, I'm enjoying the book. It's well-written with lovely descriptions and distinct character voices. The plot is centered primarily around character development so far, which suits me fine. The characters themselves are a bit of a mixed bag for me. There are three point-of-view characters, Lady Henry, Dorina Gray, and Evadne Gray - listed in order of my current appreciation for them. As this is, thus far, a novel heavily focused on character development, I'll dedicate most of my first impressions on them.


Lady Henry: So far, she's the most compelling character for me. There is this idea that our favorite characters say something about who we are (or who we want to be) and in this case, I can see it. Lady Henry and I share some basic philosophies; an appreciation for aesthetics, an understanding of the fluidity of existence, the near-sacredness of a person's ability - and right - to forge their own path, and a firm grip on the notion that we can only be responsible for our own actions. That being said, there are certainly many sides to Lady Henry that we have not seen, questions yet to be answered, and in all likelihood, something sinister resting beneath the surface. As I said, she's the most compelling character to me, which (if my record has anything to say about it) means that she's either a deity-in-disguise or a particularly cunning villain. 


Dorina Gray: She is an amusing character for me; the kind of character that I like having in a story if only because her boundless enthusiasm for discovery drives the narrative in a pleasant, if not reckless, manner. She is the youngest of the POVs and it shows, but she is written in a way that makes me want to give her room to explore and see what trouble she can get herself into. That being said, her tenacity and naivety are a dangerous combination; you don't even need to read the synopsis to figure that out. I appreciate her cunning - even if she seems a bit out of her depth compared to Lady Henry - and the small ways we see her expanding her mind and examining her own behaviors. 


Evadne Gray: She has been exasperating to me. When I read the synopsis of this book, and then Evadne's first chapter, I was concerned that her story would involve some man swooping in, curing her of her insecurity and awkwardness by showing her how special and unique she was and then the pair would ride off into the Victorian fog. Now, I'm hoping that man arrives soon because she is driving me up the wall. My instinct is to be sympathetic, Evadne and I are the same age and much of her insecurity about being the odd-one-out resonates with me. Her social awkwardness and discomfort with unusual situations/surroundings is something many people can relate to. However, her coping mechanisms for these negative feelings are starting to get to me. She compounds her discomfort with internal negativity and presses that negativity onto those around her. I think we all have that friend/acquaintance who never seems to have anything good to say about anyone or anything; well Evadne is that friend. To her credit, she recognizes when she's been especially rude. To her discredit, the realization spawns a wave of guilt and internal promises to make amends (promises which she has not yet kept). Despite realizing that she's reacting in ways that often make matters worse, she is - as of yet - unable or unwilling to make changes in her behavior. Despite all that, I do have some hope for her. She has the potential to be a vibrant, compelling character but it really is going to take someone to help draw her out of her negativity and begin to accept and embrace her own strengths. 


With part one finished, I'm excited to move on to part two and, as of now, would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys character-driven novels and has a penchant for Victorian-Gothic fiction. 

Creatures of Will and Temper - Molly Tanzer
"... when you influence someone, you risk replacing their soul with yours."

I left my heart in Middle Earth.

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy are my go-to books when I want a comforting, lovely adventure. While the epic fantasy genre has certainly evolved since Tolkien's time, there's something to be said for the classics and these books are absolutely classics. 


Tolkien's world-building abilities were legendary and his characters - while, admittedly, less developed than I usually prefer - are memorable and compelling. The journey that starts in The Hobbit and continues all the way to The Return of the King is enjoyable, full of wonder, and - as the genre suggests - truly epic. I've lost count of the the number of times I've read these books, and it's only a matter of time before I go back to them. 

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