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Victorian Mistress by Jesse Stuart

book cover of Victorian Mistress

I really wanted to like this book. Indeed, there are some things I did like about it: the main characters are good, and the interplay between them is interesting. In many ways the bonus story was actually better than the novel itself (even though the novel had spoiled all the important parts), because it just examined the relationship between Lot and Bran, and was way more focused.

The main problem with this book is that it doesn't really flow. It's obvious that this was originally a web serial that's been compiled into an ebook. Events don't really seem to be caused by one another; instead, they just occur. And a lot of different, unrelated events occur, making it at times a bit confusing. I felt it could have done with way more text bridging between the chapters and explaining what was going on, how things were connected. The finale (Charlotte deciding to lure Richard over so he would turn her into a vampire, at which point she with her immunity to vampire powers could instead kill him) wasn't really built up to over the course of the book, and the only thing I noticed come up that really could have been an overarching plot (which was Lot beating up a lot of bad guys, and being asked by her priest/brother to go take down a specific bad guy who was hurting children… or something) ended up petering out into nothing, so far as I could tell.

I feel like if I had discovered the web serial version of this, and followed that instead of reading this book, I'd have liked it all a lot better. As I said the main characters are good, and the author has a refreshingly positive take on sexuality (especially considering the novel's setting in nineteenth-century London), although I did grow weary of how many minor characters felt the need to hurl sexist slurs at Lot (like, I just felt I'd got the point by the time it had happened three times already). I don't know, am I being too harsh? I just feel like a series of short stories with these characters, each with identifiable problems and climaxes, would have been more enjoyable. So, I'm rating this 2 stars for "OK" – potential was there, but it wasn't realised.

★★

photo of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.