Viridis by Calista Taylor
Viridis isn’t exactly the average steampunk book, in fact I would say the steampunk is more in the background and just adds a bit of interest to the story, this could easily just be a Victorian drama if you take a few things out.
It’s a good book to read though if you have never read a steampunk book, it’s probably one of the more decent one’s I have read so far as well.
The story circles around Phoebe Hughes and her creation Viridis, which is a special kind of drink which makes the consumer of it become more hightend, their skin becomes sensitive and they pretty much desire sex. There is also an ex called Seth, his good pal Gavin, her brother Gabriel, a Lord who is trying very hard to court her called Victor and finally a police investigator William.
There is a lot going on in this book, it’s not just about Phoebe and her brother running a very successful club, nor is it about her ex coming back and swaying her back into his arms, or a fight between Seth and Victor for the right to court her. It encompasses all these things, with a dash of murder mystery and the theft of the secret formula Viridis.
There is also a nice twist at the end of the book, although I did wonder about the two servant girls, Lily (who worked in the bar) and her younger sister Anne, although they did add something to the book, it felt like they were tossed in at the end to give the ending a bit more drama than was really needed.
Now for the characters:
Phoebe – the main character, I suppose we should call her the heroine, but that wouldn’t sit right, because she does need to be saved. She’s not a stereotypical Victorian lady (although is there ever a stereotypical Victorian lady in books though?) since she has managed to have her own business with her brother working with her as well, she also invented and distils the Viridis drink on her own. So clearly she is indeed a smart lady. However you find that although she is a smart lady in matters about business there are moments when you just think… What? She starts to irritate me halfway through the book when she is given advice to just stay where she is and to keep away from Victor. She keeps trying to get to Victor though even though they have to stop her and tell her why she should stay away from him, even after she was hit by him she still thinks she can talk to him!
Seth – He’s a pretty dull character, for someone who is a tinkerer there wasn’t really much to highlight it much, again this shows how little steampunk there is in the book, we see him using his skills once to help the Inspector William but that was pretty much it. He just didn’t seem to have too much oomph to him aside from being a foil of sorts to Phoebe.
Gavin – Seth’s best friend from Scotland – I like that the author made it obvious that Gavin is indeed Scottish and he doesn’t (like Seth does) tweak his voice to sound more English. Gavin is just a rather interesting character, he doesn’t mind using violence when it’s need, yet he’s not that much of an idiot that he won’t think of a situation without violence. There is a moment in the book when he and Seth physically fight each other to get the tension out and clear the air. The down point was that he kissed Phoebe when Seth was away in the Outlands and the author decided to put it out in the open, when really it wasn’t needed aside to stir more tension and drama that wasn’t needed. Aside from that Gavin does appear to be a loyal friend and will do as much as he can to help Seth and Phoebe.
Victor – this guy is just irritating, he’s every inch a stereotypical Victorian villian, he wants Phoebe – although she is thinking he is after her money and the formula to her Viridis drink – but he is a powerful man with powerful friends with plenty of money of his own, having Phoebe’s money would just be a bonus. We don’t learn anything about him really, aside from the fact that he is a very evil man who blackmails people into doing the dirty deeds for him. He’s just too flat a character to really give too much attention to.
William – This is a stereotypical Victorian man, he is very much believes the law will have it’s way and he treats woman as ladies, over all he’s polite and well mannered, he’s not the most interesting character in the book, but he’s not bad and he’s not dull either.
Gabriel – Phoebe’s brother, who is always just pushed on the side, even though he does have an important part about the story. He just wasn’t there, you never really got to know him, the twist at the end of the story about him just left you feeling a bit like ‘oh really?’, it was very meh like for him, when we never really got to know him aside from being Phoebe’s brother, there was no real personality about him at all.
Over all, it’s a good book, but the characters aren’t really well thought out, Gabriel should have had more personality in the book to make him pop next to his sister, Seth was just rather dull and boring in comparison to Gavin. Victor was a plan villain.
There is also the SS and the Cause, neither of which are explained, although you are given a clue that The Cause is for people to gather together and prepare to fight in a revolution that is soon to come about.
As the first book to, most likely a trilogy it’s an okay set up, it gives people what they need to know and brings up the characters that you are most likely to see in the other books. It could be worth reading the second book in the line called Devil on a Sparrow’s Wing (Viridis 2) as I have heard it’s gets better in this book.