Elizabeth Watasin’s The Dark Victorian: Risen is a slight change from the realm of Penny Dreadfuls and the new rise of Neo-Victorian and Steampunk literature in the past few years. Though still using the elements of dark London streets and shady criminals working with supernatural means, Watasin’s book stands out in two ways: a talking skull and an artificial lesbian ghost. No, you didn’t read either of those wrong.
The Dark Victorian: Risen begins with Jim Dastard, an animated skull who is often carried in a covered cage to prevent suspicion. He is the oldest ‘surviving’ member of Prince Albert’s Secret Commission and as such has developed an odd taste for the vices and splendors of life. After the death of his partner, he is granted a much unexpected new one. His new partner, known as Artifice (or Art for short) is an artificial ghost, and what’s worst a Quaker. Prim and proper in death, Jim Dastard is almost certain that in life there was something about this woman that needed to be erased and hidden in the Secret Commission. Art has been brought back in false ghost form to help eradicate the dangers of a resurrectionist who uses the corpses of animals and young children to prey upon the living.
For those readers who love their literature LGBT friendly and have been dying (no pun intended) for a female Victorian character with a kickass attitude while still keeping all those awesome corset-based outfits, The Dark Victorian series is an absolute delight. Jim Dastard and Art work well together, discovering clues to the case as well as the secret facts of each other’s odd past-lives. It is easy to get lost in The Dark Victorian: Risen and find yourself finished with the book without realizing you’ve forgotten to do everything else you’d set out to do that day.
The Dark Victorian: Risen is now available from A-Girl Studio.