Title: The 7th of Victorica
Series: Gadgets and Shadows: Book Two
Author: Beau Schemery
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Length: 350 Pages
Category: Steampunk, Teen Fiction
At a Glance: The 7th of Victorica reads like the opening salvo for something much greater and more supernaturally sinister on the horizon. Despite a few rough patches, it ultimately succeeded in making me anxious for the final book in the trilogy.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Since Seven saved London and Queen Victoria, problems have begun growing in Victorica, formerly the free states of America. With government corruption running rampant and slavery becoming epidemic, rumors are flying about the Confederacy of the South building an army and threatening war.
Still haunted by the memory of his old enemy, Seven and his lover, Silas Kettlebent, are sent to investigate the growing corruption of the South, but they find that the problem runs deeper than they could have possibly imagined. Seven is determined to see not only the slaves freed, but the colony as well. It’s going to take the combined efforts of slaves, criminals, politicians, and Abraham Lincoln to avoid a devastating war, and if Seven has anything to say about it, to ensure the freedom of every single Victorican from British rule.
He’ll just have to do it while contending with the ghost of a previous enemy and another’s thirst for revenge.
Review: Beau Schemery’s The 7th of London was a feat of YA Steampunk storytelling, a book I absolutely adored when I read it back in 2012, thinking it was going to be a standalone novel and that the only way I’d ever get to visit Seven, Silas, Rat, Jack Midnight, and Wrathsbury again would be in re-reads. But, then something happened during the bewitching of Queen Victoria in that book. Or, rather, something didn’t happen—the American Civil War—which has now opened up an entirely new adventure for Sev, Silas and the gang, and it’s a dangerous and daunting one. The losses Sev, Silas, and Rat suffered and the lingering grief over the deaths of friends is still a fresh wound, but they know that within the truth of absolute power corrupting absolutely, to overthrow evil there will also be sacrifices, and they are willing to make them for the greater good. They are about to embark on a war with the South to free the slaves, and they will use every asset in their possession to do it.
The United States of America lost her independence during the time of Queen Victoria’s possession by an evil wizard, and though now the country has been renamed Victorica, some things remained unchanged—there is still the blight of slavery casting a pall over the country. Sev, Silas, and Ratty are Victorica-bound to begin building a youth army, much like they did when it came time to free their queen and vanquish the enemy. Adults do play a role in this -verse, but there is never a question that it’s the youth who are the brains and heart of the operation. The foundation of the troops begins with Teddy, a free northerner who introduces Sev and Silas to his brothers and sisters, all of whom are the first to enlist for the cause of freedom for all Southern slaves. Abraham Lincoln is not the President in the story, but nonetheless features heroically, as does Ulysses S. Grant. Prominent southerners Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are also central to the storyline, and I liked the liberties Schemery took in order to make this novel work, the most significant involving Midnight and Lincoln and a certain play which gives history an entire rewrite and offers Lincoln opportunities he wasn’t afforded in reality.
As Sev, Silas, Teddy and company meet Lincoln and Grant and, at the same time, a mysterious masked bandit begins a deadly dispatching of Southerners, they also encounter Lee and Jackson and their misguided idea of enslaving men and women as a beneficent and magnanimous act of white Christian charity—which, if I’m applying my own current-day optics to the situation, came across as a bit of ‘there were good people on both sides’, but it also allowed for an unexpected and welcome twist for the two men as the story progressed and their own perceptions and convictions offered them the opportunity to evolve. I’ll also mention that the language with regards to its characters of color is consistent with the time The 7th of Victorica takes place. It was jarring and difficult to read, no question, but it also serves to illustrate within whom the moral failures reside and exposes the villains, both historically and within this storyline.
The inventiveness of this novel is a complement to the world building. While I felt the lead-up to the climatic events read a bit slow at times in the effort to pull the various plot threads plus details from the previous book together into a tighter narrative, the fight scenes are beautifully choreographed; their action is fast paced and thrilling. There is no doubt who to root for to come down on the right side of history, but the real enticement of the story comes in the dark magic Seven is attempting to harness. Midnight (I do wish we’d seen a bit more of him) giving Sev the grimoire once belonging to a dark wizard is a good vs evil scenario—good in that it gives Seven and the North a great advantage; evil in that Sev is going to pay a heavy toll for using it. That darkness is being visited upon Seven and Teddy now, and as is Sev’s way, he will carry the burden of righting the wrong on his own strong and capable shoulders to protect the people who mean the most to him, especially Silas.
The 7th of Victorica reads like the opening salvo for something much greater and more supernaturally sinister on the horizon. Seven is in the midst of something begun in his belief that winning at all costs, when the cause is noble and just, is worth the inherent risks involved in the journey. My affection for him remains true, and this book served its purpose and achieved its mission in offering up a hefty dose of steampunk action and adventure in a story with an emotional punch to it, ultimately succeeding in making me anxious for the final book in the trilogy.
You can buy The 7th of Victorica here:
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