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.