Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Deanna Raybourn - A Treacherous Curse

London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker.
His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.
But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past.
Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. . .

Comment: This is the 3rd installment in the Veronica Speedwell series and, as it happened with the previous books, I also had a great time reading it.

This time, Veronica and Stoker are steadily working on their projects, now under the order of the Earl of Rosemorran, when the news about a curse from an Egyptian mummy reaches their ears. The case is even more interesting for them because an artifact was stolen once the group who was part of the excavation arrived in England. One man has disappeared and his wife was left behind but there is something weird about it. Quickly they learn that woman is actually Caroline, Stoker's ex wife. In what proves to be a demanding task, Veronica and Stoker investigate, so Stoker's name can't be brought to the public again, as if he could have something to so with it anyway. At the same time, they interview those who were in Egypt and it's inevitable they learn curious things...

Once again, I had a great experience reading this book, because the characters are very likable and engaging and I think the plot was developed in such a way I kept being curious about what would happen next. I think these two factors alone make for a good read, but I also liked the little things we learned on the way about the protagonists.

The plot is centered around the investigation of the missing artifact and who could have stolen it. The people involved also have a link to Stoker and we realize early on that this will also be a key element in the development of the story. I was quite eager to learn more about this part of Stoker's past - his previous marriage and how the fact his wife left him for his best friend is still a sore spot - and I was not disappointed, for it also provided a fascinating view of Veronica's character and sense of loyalty... she defends Stoker with all she has and apart from her moral code and unique personality, obviously I was also curious to see if this meant their relationship would evolve.

In fact, step by step, I think we see Stoker and Veronica are learning to put aside the things they can't change but which shaped them and they are closer and I can't wait for the moment they decide to admit their feelings and take a chance on one another. I think this book offered an interesting step forward because Stoker faces his ex wife and we get the feeling he kind of moves on by this, by allowing her to say her piece and he can move on in peace, knowing nothing is there anymore.

Although this was really the aspect of this book I was more interesting in, the plot regarding the mummy and the artifacts and the Egypt campaign were all fascinating elements. I mean, often all things Egypt in the archaeological sense feel captivating, this desire to know more about their gods and society and so on... I liked the content presented here and I liked how the author surrounded the main plot with interesting characters and scenes and I confess I was always intrigued by what would come next or how something would be proven to matter.

Once more, Veronica and Stoker face a few complicated situations, in one or two moments their lives are put in danger but apart from the notion that of course they couldn't die, I was also happy with how these scenes played out because, again, we could see how they care about one another and how good human being they are, doing things because it's the right thing to do. It seems quite a clash to their adventurous and apparent careless attitude in life and in regards to society, but I think this mix is precisely what makes them such a great team.

I think any reader or fan of the genre would have a good time reading this but it is true it feels better to read the series in order. I think there are nuances which only make better sense when we know some things  and, in truth, this is a very good series. I still think some elements could be improved, for instance how much better it would be if the secondary characters they deal with could have a more meaningful presence or something...
Nevertheless, this was quite alluring, no doubt.
Grade: 8/10

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