cover image The Red Plague Affair

The Red Plague Affair

Lilith Saintcrow. Orbit, $13.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-18373-4

The second Bannon and Clare steampunk mystery, following 2012’s The Iron Wyrm Affair, sees mentath Archibald Clare and sorceress Emma Bannon once again risking all to protect England (herein called Britannia) from all threats. This time they’re hot on the heels of a mad genius who’s developed a weaponized version of the Black Plague. While Saintcrow is an ace at bringing her magic-laced world to life and exploring its nooks and crannies, the plot starts off slow and doesn’t pick up until late in the game. The main characters communicate in a Victorian dance of manners that leaves much unsaid; they’re barely more than plot-driven ciphers. Copious amounts of intrigue and action don’t quite disguise the fact that little happens and less is explained or resolved. Agent: Miriam Kriss, Irene Goldman Literary Agency. (May)