Review: Her Ladyship's Curse by Lynn Viehl

Sunday, July 14, 2013
Title: Her Ladyship's Curse
Author: Lynn Viehl
Genre: alternative history, steampunk, supernatural, mystery
Series: Disenchanted & Co. #1
Pages: 220 (ARC edition)
Published: expected August 12 2013
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 2/5

In a steampunk version of America that lost the Revolutionary War, Charmian (Kit) Kittredge makes her living investigating magic crimes and exposing the frauds behind them. While Kit tries to avoid the nobs of high society, as the proprietor of Disenchanted & Co. she follows mysteries wherever they lead.

Lady Diana Walsh calls on Kit to investigate and dispel the curse she believes responsible for carving hateful words into her own flesh as she sleeps. While Kit doesn’t believe in magic herself, she can’t refuse to help a woman subjected nightly to such vicious assaults. As Kit investigates the Walsh family, she becomes convinced that the attacks on Diana are part of a larger, more ominous plot—one that may involve the lady’s obnoxious husband.

Sleuthing in the city of Rumsen is difficult enough, but soon Kit must also skirt the unwanted attentions of nefarious deathmage Lucien Dredmore and the unwelcome scrutiny of police Chief Inspector Thomas Doyle. Unwilling to surrender to either man’s passion for her, Kit struggles to remain independent as she draws closer to the heart of the mystery. Yet as she learns the truth behind her ladyship’s curse, Kit also uncovers a massive conspiracy that promises to ruin her life—and turn Rumsen into a supernatural battleground from which no one will escape alive.

This was coasting along; a decent, if shallow, alternative history steampunk.... until that non-ending reared its head to frustrate me. Her Ladyship's Curse has an intriguing enough premise - a supernatural steampunk story set in "Toriana" (Provincial Union of Victoriana), a version of the United States where the Revolutionary War failed - but execution was shallow if serviceable. For the most part... but I will get to that in just a minute.

I wanted more from the worldbuilding early on. The idea at the heart of the novel  is a good one - far too few steampunk novels turn their focus outside of Great Britain - but the author failed to provide enough detail to flesh out her alternative history. The book is decent if far from stellar at several things: plot, pacing, writing, and creativity. However, the author's clear lack of detail works against Her Ladyship's Curse. The mystery element is pretty weak, but since Kit is a dry, amusing protagonist I was content to ride along with her and see where it all ended up.

And then, after two hundred pages of nondescript writing and very little characterization -which I was more than willing to look past because the novel was engaging enough - we get to that "ending." And I am being generous with that description. The last chapter is utterly frustrating. The cliffhanger resolves NOTHING. There is NO resolution to the main plot, just a clear ploy to buy book two. UGH. It was a cheap way to end a novel - regardless of how short the book may be. There are no answers, just an interlude THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PLOT that just.. terminates. It's over, and it's far from a good stopping point.

I can't say I will pick up His Lordship Possessed because of how terribly Her Ladyship's Curse ended. There are plenty of supernatural steampunk mysteries already published to keep me busy, and at least they are concerned with satisfactorily wrapping up plots before attempting to solicit more money from their readers. What had been a shaky 3-star read quickly downgraded into a 2/5 and just convinced me to never pick up this series again.

This is a cheap buy for $2.99 for ebooks, but how much enjoyment others will derive from it...  I cannot predict.


  1. Nooooooooooooooooooooooo! I actually just emailed the publicist to try to get a copy of this -- it looked so marvelously fun. Am devastated!

    1. Maybe you will like it more! I could be all alone over here. It's just a pet peeve of mine when authors do that. I need resolution!

  2. I don't read nearly the amount of steampunk I'd like to, and this looked so promising. Sad! I was excited by the non-British setting especially, but...meh. From what you describe, this isn't exactly worth running out to buy.


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