Title: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells
Author: Delia Sherman
In: Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling) & The Mammoth Book of Gaslit Romance (Ekatrina Sedia)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Gaslamp, Magic
Dates read: 9th June 2019
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: Surely a mother’s duty is to comfort and protect her child, not stand by while a monster savages her.
She’s locked up in the dusty old archives trying to decipher the spells of a long-lost queen. But, when she finds out the secret behind the words, she’ll have to decide what to do with her knowledge.
As an introduction to Gaslamp fantasy, this was kind of fantastic. And the fact that it was a short story written by an author that I’ve already kind of fallen for… well, that was sort of perfect. After all, this story mixes magic, sexism and a healthy dose of pride and power. Actually, the voice which told the story was one that I immediately connected with and didn’t ever want to leave.
Queen Victoria is a fairly pinnacle character of Victorian tropes – as soon as I saw the title of the book and the story, I started to think about the time and reality in which this story was placed. But, reading a diary from a young girl who supposedly ended up marrying for love and who faced some very difficult hurdles to her crown. All before she fully grew into her own powers and strength, was a great adventure. It was a great theme and person to hang a story on.
One of the things that I struggle with in academia is the idea that one person’s opinions can seriously screw up your future (I’m very lucky with my academic supervisors). And that, in science and discovery, there are some things that might be a little too intense and dangerous to share. Again, not something that I actually tend to have to deal with, but it’s still a cloud that hovers over my thoughts. Sherman deals with these issues perfectly in a way that makes you really want to help the protagonist, and hope for the happy ending that is hinted in the final passages.
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