Monday, January 9, 2012

Viridis by Calista Taylor

Viridis, by Calista Taylor, is a Steampunk mystery/romance novel set in 1866 London.
If you are unfamiliar with Steampunk, here's the wiki:
Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s.[1] Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United States—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology, or futuristic innovations as Victorians might have envisioned them, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology includes such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or the contemporary authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld and China Mieville.
Other examples of steampunk contain alternative history-style presentations of such technology as lighter-than-air airships, analog computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace's Analytical engine.

Anyway, Viridis is the story of Phoebe Hughes who had created a powerful "herbal" drink called Viridis. Because of it's ability to heighten one's senses and helps people shed their inhibitions (all while being completely safe to drink), it has become an overnight sensation in London at her club by the same name.
But when a young lord named Hawthorne is killed two blocks away, an investigator with a tender heart is led on the chase of a lifetime trying to solve a murder and figure out just how Phoebe and her concoction fit in.
The entire story is so full of twists and turns, it keeps the reader's mind engaged and wondering what will happen next to the characters, both good and bad.

Phoebe's one-time love, Seth, has returned to London after having been away for a year working for "the Cause." The Cause seems to be on the verge of a revolution in London and is fighting against the Queen and her Secret Services. Both the Cause and Secret Services are truly secretive because I never quite caught onto what exactly either side was trying to accomplish.
Back in Seth's brawny Scottish arms, Phoebe manages to anger a would-be suitor by the name of Victor who will stop at nothing to get what he wants - Phoebe for himself.

When it is discovered that the murdered man had stolen Phoebe's secret recipe for Viridis, the plot surely thickens as they all try to come up with an answer to the many questions that keep arising:
Who killed Lord Hawthorne?
Why did he have the recipe for Viridis and what side was he on (the Cause or the Secret Services)?
Who had Hawthorne been with the night he was killed?
Was Victor behind the whole thing?
Where did Hawthorne's lady friend Lilly disappear to?

The inspector has a very hard time trying to answer all the questions and track down potential murderers who would want the recipe for Viridis, but is incredibly polite and civil to the main characters throughout the story.

But when things become very dark and criminal charges begin to fly, nobody is sure what to do. Seth is arrested for seeking revenge and Phoebe tries to take matters into her own hands to get him released, even if it means giving herself over to the one person she detests most. And when her brother Gabriel is attacked, everyone is left scratching their heads as to what is really going on.

A mystery in it's truest form, I had no inclination at all as to "who done it" when the real murderer was revealed and WHY - I have to tell you, I was shocked!

This was my first Steampunk novel, and the very cool gadgets and "modern-like" contraptions they had were very neat and futuristic, but sort of hard to imagine for me. But that didn't stop me from enjoying the story.
There is a lot of sexuality in the book, and in the latter part there is a chapter that I would consider delicate if the reader has even been the victim of sexual abuse.
As someone who usually reads Christian fiction, though, I was not personally bothered by any of it and felt that author Taylor stayed true to her genre and characters exceptionally well.

I would give Viridis 3.5 out of 5 stars and a big props to Taylor for her first book! I hope one day to follow in your footsteps of publishing! Kudos!


  1. Will check it out, especially since it is free on Kindle. Will you check out the other books of the series?
    Also, have you noticed we have the same background?

  2. I did notice that! I don't know that I liked it enough for the second book. I'm still mulling it over.


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