Author: Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Phoenix Rising is a sensational steampunk inaugural offering from the team of Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris about the dashing duo Agents Braun and Books.
This book is fast paced, well written and extremely thought provoking while remaining a lot of fun. Agents Books and Braun are vivid characters that really come to life behind your eyes.
Books is quite the proper English gentleman, and seemingly quite effeminate but there is more to Books than meets the eye, mark my words; in upcoming books of this series (which I’m sure there will be) we will delve much deeper into the history of Agent Books and learn about the events that chased him to the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Archives. A place deep under the Ministry that is secluded, quiet and relatively undisturbed.
Braun is far from the proper English gentlewoman (I think I mean lady), which can be explained in part by the fact that she was born and raised in New Zealand and has only moved to England recently. There is a lot to be discovered about Braun’s character as well; there are hints dropped to insinuate that she too is on the run from her past and that is how she arrived at the Ministry.
Unlike Books, Braun is an Agent who loves working in the field; amongst the action and the danger. Her recent actions have bought her quite into the spotlight and her behaviour less than exemplary so she is transferred to the Archives; to take her out of the field and teach her to be a little more disciplined.
Contrary to Director Sound’s hopes for the partnership it wasn’t Books’ disciplined, bookish and studious behaviours and work ethics that rubbed off on the abrasive, spontaneous and independent Agent Braun. Instead our daring agents embark on some detective work of their own, outside of Ministry hours and knowledge, following up one of the forgotten cases.
Set in Victorian London there were so many revolutionary societal changes taking place that it’s easy to get caught up thinking about that period of history the way we know it in contrast to the way Ballantine and Morris have written it. This was the time of the suffragettes, a rigid class system and wifely subservience; not to mention corsetry and bustles. Agent Braun is a woman of many talents, and skilled with many weapons.
The biggest hindrance to her is ladies fashion; it’s very difficult to pull off risky manoeuvres in the field while wearing bustles, skirts, corsetry and heels though it does offer added hiding spots for weaponry. These difficulties see Agent Braun often combining men’s and ladies fashions to better assist in carrying out her duties.
Agents Books and Braun meet in rather exceptional circumstances; the first time that Braun saves Books’ life. This mission doesn’t go quite to plan and results in an Antarctican stronghold blowing up. The instances of Braun’s insubordination add up on this mission and see her reassigned to the Archives with Books to calm, learn discipline and have a bit of a break from the excitement of the field. There are some fireworks early on between these two as first impressions count and neither Agent managed to make a good one.
Phoenix Rising has chemistry, clandestine British secret society’s, Victorian fashions and societal commentary beautifully combined with fantastical steam powered technology the likes of which never made it to light.
This book will involve you and have you thinking about where things fit in with the actual histories of the Victorian era and eagerly anticipating the next volume – which I’m sure will be coming. There are many adventures still to be had by the intrepid investigators Books and Braun.
I devour books, vampires and supernatural creatures are my genre of choice but over the past couple of years, I have broadened my horizons considerably. In a nutshell – I love to write! I love interacting with a diverse range of artists to bring you interviews. Perhaps we were perfect before – I LOVE WORDS!