Per Amazon “ The Dresden Files meets The Parasol Protectorate in the first book of this clever, fast-paced Gaslamp Fantasy series about a woman ahead of her time who knows too much about magic, and not enough about self-control. Eccentric social outcast Lady Gwenevere St. James knows many secret things: magic, alchemy, artifice, and even the truth about the long-forgotten faeries. But she does not know why common criminals are using rare and dangerous magic to kidnap orphans from the streets of New London. After rescuing one young girl, Gwen vows to save the rest, no matter the cost. But a handsome Scotland Yard inspector is also investigating the case, and he thinks Gwen knows far too much about the kidnappings to be innocent. To save the children, Gwen must dodge the Inspector, bully a coven of witches, and outsmart her marriage-minded mama, all while managing a wily young pickpocket and a headstrong raven. But an unexpected secret hides at the center of the mystery, one that will force her to confront the most painful event from her past, and possibly sacrifice her future.”
This book hits a niche in books I was unaware I needed. It is not the first of this style of book I have found but It is to date the cleanest iteration of the Gaslamp Fantasy.
Now you may be asking what Gaslamp or Gaslight Fantasy is. TVTropes.org describes it as this:
Gaslamp fantasy, also called gaslight fantasy, is Steampunk‘s more magically-inclined cousin. It’s a subgenre of fantasy (and more specifically of Historical Fantasy) with a setting that is clearly recognizable as the real-world 19th or very early 20th century (or a reasonable analog thereof).
I lean towards steampunk in many of my geekdom, it is a fantastical world to be but till recently I did not realize that Gaslamp or Gaslight fantasy was a thing. This book hits all the right strokes of its themes, while still feeling relevant to what you have come to this book for. If you are in the mood for a mystery with a magical world then this would be right up your alley. There are discussions of proprietary, rights of dwarves, as well as bringing in a realism with the discussion of the issue of work houses in early 19th century London. The character of Delilah is my favorite and I could read a whole book about her, and how she became one of the few dwarven women artificers. Gwen is a relatable character while still being a bit mysterious and the mystery of this story pulls you in.
The true star of this show is the relationship between Gwen and her mother the Duchess Wainright. This style of story lends itself to an overbearing mother whom the MC dislikes and avoids at all costs. A disdain is built about the mother relationship, and while the Duchess fits into part of that mold the fact that Gwen loves her so much is evident and refreshing. Also, Aristotle ( a crow) is a pretty boy who is a hero in the story. This book is very much an intense story wrapped up in a cozy world. A world I look forward to returning to in the next book Moonstruck.
This story has some foul language, and not just when referring to the crow, though less than one would expect considering the tense subject matter. There are some sexual references but it is not graphic and more eluded which I personally appreciate. The overall story is intense and while I would not recommend this for a child, as the book is clearly aimed at adults, the content is minimal and respectful even when things are brought up.
Our rating: Here at Geek Devotions we give Vanished: Book One of the Gwen St. James Affair by Nicole Mckeon a 4 out of 5 Glix.