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Victorian Era London is a wonder that's known for it's fluid social roles, vibrant arts scene, and underground diabolic cults. Evadne Gray, a fencer, isn't interested in those first two and doesn't know about the last, but she finds herself in the city against her wishes to act as a chaperone for her younger sister, Dorina, an aspiring art critic. After Dorina meets their uncle’s friend, Lady Henrietta “Henry” Wotton, an aristocrat and aesthete, Evadne enrolls in a fencing school where she meets George Cantrell, a top tier fencing master. George shows her more than she bargained for - a hidden world of demons and their servants. George has dedicated himself to fighting demons and diabolists, and he needs Evadne’s help. In fact, Lady Henry might actually be a diabolist - and worse yet, Evadne suspects Dorina have turned as well.
As soon as I realized that Molly Tanzer's newest novel, Creatures of Will and Temper, was inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, I knew I had to find a copy for myself. Luckily, I actually managed to get myself approved for an ARC on NetGalley. This is my first time trying Tanzer's work, but overall I was really impressed with the quality of it all. Although the story is slower paced than what I usually like and takes a little while to really get going, the writing is gorgeous. I really enjoyed getting to know our two flawed sisters, Evadne and Dorina, since they have such a close connection. Neither are completely likable, but I couldn't help but root for both of them. I loved the fencing and action in the story. I don't often see fencing in historical fantasy, so this was a lot of fun seeing Evadne get to go toe-to-toe with a master. It's also was also good to see an f/f relationship take the spotlight - between Dorina and Lady Henry, especially since Dorina's one of the leading characters and taking the setting into account - plus, there are other LGBTQ+ characters featured.
Overall, if you're looking for a refreshing new historical fantasy with a great cast, epic sword fights, and a realistic connection between sisters, then you absolutely need to try Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer. Just be warned the first half of the book sets a slow pace as we are introduced to the characters and their world, but it's definitely worth sticking with it. Like Cat Winters, The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, then you'll probably like this new release.
I read this ARC from November 13 - 14, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.