Creatures of Will and Temper, by Molly Tanzer, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 2017.
Part Victorian Gothic, part sword-swashing adventure, part witchcraft and part romance, this is a thoroughly delightful tale. With a nod here and there to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, the story concerns two sisters on a visit with their uncle in London. The older sister, Evadne Gray, loves fencing and the neighbor youth, but the latter has left her heart-broken by announcing his engagement to another. She’s in London as a diversion from her sorrow and also as chaperone for her vivacious, rebellious, artistic younger sister, Dorina Gray. Soon they’ve gone their own ways, Dorina to the salon of Lady Henrietta Wotton and Evadne to study at a fencing academy. But matters are not all they seem, for in this world of Victorian high society, demons bargain with their human hosts in pacts ranging from benign to bloody.
This was my introduction to the work of Molly Tanzer but it won’t be my last. Besides the supernatural and mysterious, the depiction of a world of privilege and heartache, the story delves with sensitivity and insight into human relationships, thus setting it apart.