I am indebted to Lydia Gittings at Titan books for providing a copy of Deanna Raybourn’s ‘A Curious Beginning’ in return for an honest review. It was published in paperback on October 2nd 2015.
Having just buried her last remaining relative, her Aunt Nell, Veronica Speedwell returns to the cottage they had shared to find it being ransacked by a villain who attempts to abduct her. Rescued by the mysterious Baron Maximilian von Stauffenbach, Veronica’s adventures begin in England 1887.
I absolutely loved this story. Deanna Raybourne writes sparkling, witty prose that entertains from the first word to the last. There is often great humour amongst the peril, especially in the highly natural dialogue.
The plot races along, twisting and turning along the way, assisted admirably by the lively first person narrative. I thought the way Deanna Raybourne gradually uncovered information about both Veronica and Stoker was masterful. The reader becomes as much involved in the story as they do and it is exciting to find out a little bit more at the same time as the characters.
I loved both Veronica and Stoker. Veronica Speedwell is instantly likeable and realistic, despite not conforming to the stereotypes expected for the Victorian era in which the novel is set. She is a woman any reader would like to meet in real life, being feisty and intelligent and, as Stoker says of her at one point, ‘She is entirely her own woman’. Stoker too is brilliantly portrayed. The story crackles with sexual tension between these two main characters and their sparky repartee is utterly engaging for the reader.
As ‘A Curious Beginning’ is the first in what is to be a new Victorian crime series, I honestly can’t wait to read the next. This story would make a fabulous television drama series. Historically accurate and authentic, ‘A Curious Beginning’ is for readers who like a strong female protagonist, excellently depicted relationships and a strong romp of a book. I thought it was wonderful.