Fastens your seat belts, folks, this one is one hell of a ride.
If you read last year’s review of Phoenix Rising, you probably either already know what I’m about to say, or you’re already nose deep into the book and not reading this review. For those of you who are coming late into the game, or just enjoy reading my reviews, Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris are at it again! On May 29th, 2012, Harper Voyager released their second Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel, The Janus Affair. Once again, Wellington Thornhill Books, and Eliza D. Braun have emerged from the Archives of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences to uncover a dastardly plot that endangers Queen Victoria’s England, and possibly the rest of the world.
The winds of change are blowing across the face of the empire, as women all over England are demanding the right to vote, spurred on by visits of New Zealand suffragettes who have come to help their disenfranchised sisters in the mother country. But this change is not welcomed by all. Books and Braun are returning from Edinburgh to London on the latest hyper steam train when a terrified woman vanishes from right in front of them in a burst of lightning. This incident turns out to be the tip of the iceberg, as a quick search of the Archives reveals that a number of influential members of the Women’s Suffrage Movement have disappeared in similar cases. Cases which have been closed half-investigated by their fellow agents in the Ministry.
With Miss Braun’s mentor, Kate Sheppard, come from New Zealand to further the cause, along with her son Douglas, Eliza’s former fiancé, the duo must take the investigation into their own hands. This leads to a fast-paced romp over and above the streets of London as the leadership of the Movement begin disappearing one by one.
Second books in a series often take a bad rap as pale imitations of their predecessors. Fear not, gentile reader, this is NOT the case with the Janus Affair. Ballantine and Morris have exceeded themselves with an excellent tale of intrigues and machinations as Books and Braun try to track down the missing women and discover who is behind their disappearances, Douglas attempts to renew his romance with Eliza, and Wellington discovers feelings of jealousy he hadn’t been aware of. On top of all this, there is a traitor in the Ministry, working to bring the Ministry down.
The book is beautifully written. The characters are real, and the dialog rings true in a wonderfully snarky way. This is a great story and a great read, and it looks like the next book, By Dawn’s Early Light, will continue on in this vein. If you’re a fan of Steampunk or Adventure and don’t mind a love triangle or two thrown in, I think you’ll love this book.