Book Review: Phoenix Rising (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1) by Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris

Title: Phoenix Rising (A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences)
Authors: Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris
Details: Paperback, 416 pgs.
Published: April 26th, 2011 by Eos
isbn: 0062049763 (ISBN13: 9780062049766)
Reading Level: Adult
Source: NetGalley, Eos (HarperCollins)


Evil is most assuredly afoot—and Britain’s fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade . . . and a librarian.
These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences—the Crown’s clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling—will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest . . . and she’s prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the perilous fray.
For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun—he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices—must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot . . . or see England fall to the Phoenix!

This book was a lot of fun!  It had lots of action with a kick butt heroine and some amazing gadgets.  It was also full of adventure.  Although they didn’t go outside England, other than in the very beginning, it had a very adventuresome feel to it.  I also loved that it was the female that was kick butt and the male was the smart librarian, gadget geek.   Although he did surprise us a time or two!  He definitely has some talents up his sleeve he prefers to keep hidden until absolutely necessary.
Books and Braun are very different from each other.  But when they are forced to work together in the archives they discover a ‘cold’ case that they start looking into.  The next thing they know they are on a full blown case, but without the Ministry’s knowledge.  And this is no small case, there’s a lot riding on it and Braun (Eliza) in particular, is quite determined to have it solved.  But one small slip up could cost them their lives.
The story starts out with a bang.  Lots of action and shooting and explosions.  But then for the next few chapters it seemed to lag.  That was when we were really introduced to Books and Braun and the Ministry.  We see the two bicker for a few chapters, and we see some peeks into side characters, and then the story picks up again.
In the beginning I felt confused because of all the names.  Sometimes Eliza is Eliza.  Sometimes she’s Braun.  Wellington was sometimes Wellington and other times Welly and then later he’s Books.  The inconsistency’s in the name usage in the first few chapters was throwing me.  Every time I heard Books I thought of a bookstore.  Also Esquire is at the end of his name which seemed to confuse me as well.  By the time I got a few chapters in I think my brain had wrapped around the name thing and it wasn’t a problem anymore, but it did slow me down in the beginning. 
The beginning of each chapter has a quirky title and I thought that was a nice touch.  It gave us a real feel not only for what was going to happen, but for the story as a whole.  It gave it a Victorian Steampunk feel, I suppose. 
This story had a lot of the gadgets we love to see in Steampunk books.  Some are maybe a bit bigger than mere gadgets, but you’ll have to read it to learn more about that.  But it definitely satisfied me on that level.
Overall I really enjoyed the book and am anxious for more!

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  1. Oh, I really enjoyed this book as well! :) So glad to see you did too.

    Did you know they have short stories from the Archives on their site? They are short podcasts. I just got through the first one and enjoyed it. Looking forward to listening to more of the Tales they have.

  2. I haven’t seen this book before, but it looks good. I agree with you that it can get really confusing if characters have too many names/aliases. Wellington Books is a great name though!

  3. I really like the cover for this! It’s different. I hate when names and characters are confusing, it’s good that you got used to it quickly.

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