I’m finally really getting started on my BEA haul, which I first wrote about back in June. One of the books that I was most excited to read was Netherworld by Bram Stoker Award-winning author, Lisa Morton. This little 282-page novel promised to be one of the quickest reads in my pile and a fun little romp through Victorian demon slaying. Netherworld tells the story of Lady Diana Furnaval, whose world changed forever when she married her beloved William. Her late husband had been the guardian of a portal to another world, and he taught her all about the gruesome and dangerous creatures that sometimes cross over. But then William fell victim to some of those creatures, himself. Now it is Diana’s job to take over the family business, find out what happened to her husband, and try to stop the forces of evil.
Diana is the kind of tough, kick-butt Victorian lady we love to read about. While perfectly capable of being prim and proper with petticoats and a parasol, Diana spends half the book in men’s clothing, realizing that pants are much more practical when fighting demons. She starts out the book all on her own, carrying her husband’s work a step farther once she learns how to permanently close the gateways to the netherworld. Along her quest to close every gateway she can, Diana picks up a new friend from China named Yi-kin. Diana, Yi-kin, and Diana’s pet cat, Mina, travel the world closing gateways and learning more about the ominous plans brewing in the netherworld. Then it is time for Diana and her friends to make the most dangerous journey yet—they must travel into the netherworld itself in order to find out what really happened to Diana’s husband and stop a dangerous demon lord.
While I was somewhat disappointed by this book’s mediocre writing style and two-dimensional characters—and the copious grammatical and typographical errors made me cringe every few chapters—Netherworld was nonetheless pretty much what I had hoped for: a fun and easy read to get lost in after work. And while parts of the story come off as flat, the subject matter shows surprising depth. More than just a fun romp through the English countryside slaying demons, this book acknowledges that a world outside of England existed during the Victorian era and tackles a number of issues from industrialization, to the opium trade between England and China, to imperialism and racial discrimination. It also includes fun bits of mythology from a variety of cultures—my favorite being the hopping Chinese vampires.
Want the book? I might be able to be talked into giving away my signed copy! Tell me in the comments if you’re interested, or if you have any other good Victorian fantasy to recommend.