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Grimm, Top 10

Top 10: Victoriana

04.02.12 | Comment?

Queen VictoriaThe nineteenth century: mystery, adventure, magic, the supernatural, orphans, the industrial age of machinery and steam; all good stuff. Here’s a selection of fiction set in Victorian times (strictly speaking 1837 to 1901), mostly in London.

  1. The Hunchback Assignments, by Arthur Slade. Steampunk mystery! The catalogue says: “In Victorian London, fourteen-year-old Modo, a shape-changing hunchback, becomes a secret agent for the Permanent Association, which strives to protect the world from the evil machinations of the Clockwork Guild.”
  2. Clockwork Angel, Cassandra Clare. Speaking of steampunk, Cassandra Clare brings her world of shadowhunters and Magnus Bane to 19th century London, complete with automatons.
  3. The Agency series, Y S Lee. Speaking of mystery. Mary Quinn is an orphan rescued from death by hanging and set to work for a detective agency (masquerading as Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls) as an undercover agent, investigating mysterious deaths. Which is a much better fate.
  4. The Monstrumologist, Rick Yancey. The monstrumologist is Doctor Pellinore Warthrop, and 12 year old Will Henry is his apprentice. Together they hunt and study monsters, epic and mythic and horrible. The sequel is The Curse of the Wendigo and – stop press! – The Isle of Blood has recently arrived.
  5. Everlasting, Angie Frazier. Described as part romance, part adventure, Everlasting tells the story of Camille, who travels from San Francisco to Australia on her father’s ship, only to have the ship founder, and to discover a letter from her supposedly dead mother (complete with treasure map to a magic stone that holds the secret to immortality). The first mate is where the romance comes in.
  6. A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray. A fantastical, magical adventure story (again, with some romance), in which Gemma Doyle arrives in England after the violent death of her mother in India, and becomes aware of a frightening and wonderful spiritual realm, and her own considerable magical power.
  7. Whisper My Name, Jane Eagland. Set in 1885, Whisper my name is a Victorian mystery with a backdrop of séances and mediums – the author says on her website: “A fascination with the world of Victorian spiritualism, the British in India, nineteenth century theatre and science all form part of the mix.”
  8. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens. It wouldn’t do not to include the king of Victorian fiction.
  9. Bewitching Season, Marissa Doyle. More intrigue: “In 1837, as seventeen-year-old twins, Persephone and Penelope, are starting their first London Season they find that their beloved governess, who has taught them everything they know about magic, has disappeared.” (catalogue)
  10. Folly, Marthe Jocelyn. “In a parallel narrative set in late nineteenth-century England, teenaged country girl Mary Finn relates the unhappy conclusion to her experiences as a young servant in an aristocratic London household while, years later, young James Nelligan describes how he comes to leave his beloved foster family to live and be educated at London’s famous Foundling Hospital.” (catalogue)

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