Reviewed by Scott
[Snip] The novel is set in the England of the early 1880′s, and despite the fact that it is a fantasy novel set in the Victorian Era there is nary a set of goggles and very few of the other expected trappings of Steampunk to be found. One of the interesting features of the novel is that it really has two protagonists: the reluctantly undead Gilbert Hiltman and the sorceress, witch and gadgeteer Alice White. Gilbert’s body was inadvertently laid to rest in the tomb of the novel’s villain, Lord Mordaunt, who had expected to be raised as a lich by his minions. Gilbert initially has no memory of how he died or why he would have been brought to unlife in Lord Mordaunt’s stead. However, as an abomination he knows that he will be hunted both by the small Ministry of Ethereal Affairs (commonly called the Witch Watch) which was created by Alice’s father and by the legions of fanatical Red Sashes in service of the Church. And so Gilbert swiftly flees the scene of the foul ritual which raised him from the dead with the young, unfortunate and abused sorcerer, Simon, who had performed the ritual.
Alice gets her hands on the grimoire that Simon used for the ritual and learns that the ritual required the life-essence or “vigor” of someone of royal blood, and we soon learn that the princess Sophie is missing. Simply undoing the spell would release Gilbert but kill the comatose Sophie, and so Gilbert, Alice and Simon are soon searching for the location of Sophie’s body while being hunted by Lord Mordaunt’s minions and the Red Sashes.