Lilith Saintcrow: The Red Plague Affair

 The Red Plague Affair: Bannon & Clare book 2
by Lilith Saintcrow
(steampunk, historical fantasy)

I really enjoyed THE IRON WYRM AFFAIR, book one in this series, so when I saw book 2 on the shelf I had to buy it. And I’m glad I did! It’s another enjoyable romp through the alternate steampunk & sorcery world that Ms. Saintcrow has created.

About this book: first of all, it doesn’t pick up immediately after where the first book left off. Shortly after, I imagine, but not immediately. This is obvious due to the actions which start off the second book: Clare is hunting down his arch-nemesis (Vance) in the sewers, and there seems to be history between them which I do not remember reading about in book 1. However, the reader isn’t lost among this additional backstory. It merely serves as background, and is brought up when relevant to the current events.

Secondly, like the first book, it is nicely and evenly split between the two main characters. I appreciate having them get equal screen time. I still am not sure which of the characters I like better, Bannon or Clare. They have their own peculiarities, and I like each for different reasons.

In some ways, I wish I knew more of the real historical background so that I could better enjoy the changes made for this alternate steampunk history. However, even without knowing the real stuff, I still found that I enjoyed this book immensely, and I got enough of the references (and am quite capable of Googling anything I’m truly curious about) to be entertained instead of annoyed.

This book does make it clear that there is still plenty of room for more books in the series without ending on a cliffhanger or with an only partial ending. (I do appreciate complete endings in books, even when it’s clear that there’s plenty of room for a series. Thank you, Ms. Saintcrow!) And at least for now, I will be continuing with this series. It’s a nice world to play in. I do appreciate a good steampunk, where the steampunk part has a point other than “to look cool,” and it’s given purpose in this world. The steampunk is a nice balance to the magic, and works really well with the Holmsian geniuses that also populate the world.

This novel is definitely worth a read, if you haven’t yet, though I HIGHLY recommend starting with book 1. You could technically start with book 2, but there would be tons of book 1 spoilers, and the nuances of the world would make a lot more sense starting at the beginning. (Another thing I appreciate about Ms. Saintcrow’s work – she gives you the history of the prior book without babysitting you through a complete outline. But it does mean that if you miss a book, you will miss many details that would help your enjoyment of the current book.) Anyway, long story short: I am a fan of this series.

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