Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little corner of the internet! Today I’m reviewing Monstrous Design, a historical fiction with a touch of fantasy, and the sequel to Dangerous Remedy, which I reviewed last month. It was a fantastic blend of fact and fiction, with the magic of found families alongside the realities of being gay in the midst of the French Revolution.
Dangerous Remedy ended on what was both a cliffhanger and a perfect final page, seeing the Battalion go in different directions to continue their work. I was so excited when I was offered an advance copy to review of Monstrous Design, because I was so ready to see what came next! My thanks to Hannah over at Midas PR for making me so happy.
Following the thrills and spills of Dangerous Remedy, the Battalion of the Dead return in a dazzling new adventure, set amid the opulence and squalour of 18th-century London and Paris.
1794, London: Camille and Al are desperately hunting Olympe’s kidnapper. From the glamorous excesses of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens to the city’s seedy underbelly, they are caught in a dangerous game of lies and deceit. And a terrible new enemy lies in wait with designs more monstrous than they could ever imagine… Can Camille play on to the end or will she be forced to show her hand?
In Paris, the Duc is playing his own dangerous games. With Ada in his thrall, old loyalties are thrown into question. The Battalion are torn apart as never before, and everything – Ada’s love for Camille, her allegiance to the Battalion itself – is under threat.
Where book one had opened with a hot air balloon flying over a prison, book two, not to be outdone, opens with the words, “So, are you ready to die?”. It very much picks up where Dangerous Remedy had left the characters, but could easily be read as a standalone also; who doesn’t love a bit of angst among a cast? And that’s certainly what we have, especially with our lovers divided and in different countries.
Although we did have different perspectives in Dangerous Remedy, this book introduces us to a few more, which turn out to be vital to the storytelling as we continue following the divided Battallion in their missions. I loved how this book really kept me on my toes guessing people’s loyalties, essential when they seem to be questioning themselves at times. On top of that, their demons are coming back to haunt them in different ways, promises broken hanging in the air, and pain caused ready to follow the three fold law.
Monstrous Design pulls you in different directions all at once, which, combined with the shorter chapters, keeps you rushing through to get back to different perspectives, wanting to pick back up one thread, and just as you see it coming, another little cliffhanger gets you. It’s the best kind of infuriating; the kind of infuriating that makes you absolutely sure you’ll read every book the author ever writes.
The author also deserves a huge amount of praise for how much research has gone into planning this novel, managing to balance it out with turmoil on both sides of the channel, when our characters have no reliable way of communicating during a period of war between the two countries, and no end in sight to their time apart. This makes for an interesting storyline, but it wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as it is if it didn’t have all the energy and love that has clearly gone in to writing accurate historical fiction that has a touch of fantasy supported by well thought out science.
Overall, Monstrous Design was a superb read, a brilliant sequel, and I’m hoping the time isn’t too long between now and when we see more from the Battallion de Morts.
My thanks again to Hannah from Midas for sending me this advance copy, and all my well wished to the author for her release next week!