cover image Miss Violet and the Great War

Miss Violet and the Great War

Lianna Renee Hieber. Tor, $18.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-7653-7746-3

In Hieber’s disappointing fourth Strangely Beautiful gaslamp fantasy (after 2017’s Perilous Prophecy), a spirit medium journeys to the battlefields of the Great War. Violet Rychman has been able to see ghosts her whole life, which isn’t surprising, since her mother, Percy—at one time inhabited by the goddess Persephone—is a former member of the now-dissolved Guard, who kept London safe from harmful spirits. Violet’s persistent visions started as a child and have shown her fields of war littered with the bodies of thousands. In 1914, war breaks out and Violet, disguised as a nurse, travels to the front in Verdun, France, with plans to help ease the transition of so many tortured souls. Meanwhile, Will Page, Violet’s best and oldest friend, enlists, seeking the source of the “hissing darkness” that haunts him. Percy gathers the former Guard and heads to France to find Violet and help in her mission. Hieber comfortably navigates her magic-infused world, but the prose, which loosely emulates a Victorian style, is heavy-handed (“Divinities dove home once more into flawed flesh”) and relies too much on exposition. Series fans may be happy to see the Guard back together, but new readers may be lost in this overwrought fantasy. [em](Feb.) [/em]