Picture of Dorian Gray. The author, Molly Tanzer, freely adds to and twists the Wilde icon into something that is different and original and wholly itself.
This book ticked a lot of boxes for me; among other things it has Victoriana, demons, an impressively built and well thought out magic system, dastardly antagonists, some mystery subplots and fencing! *swoon*.
It takes a lot of chutzpah to stand up and rewrite, however well intentioned, Wilde. Wilde. Ms. Tanzer is very competent, the writing is very well done (and not overdone). The plotting is tight and for an almost 400 page book, the story arc moves along at a brisk pace. I didn't find the story dragging at all. There were a few moments of internal eye rolling from me for the anachronistic dialogue and sarcastic sibling squabbling (say that five times fast :). It's much more a function of it being a YA modern light romance urban fantasy and that I'm a grumpy old fart than sloppy writing however. This is a surprisingly deftly written book.
Must read for fans of YA urban fantasy, especially Victoriana. It's not extremely graphic except for one particular brutal passage, which does set up a plot element but felt out of proportion compared to the rest of the book.
Four stars, deftly written prose, fencing demonists, strong(ish) female protagonists.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.