Review: A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

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A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

Release Date: September 1st 2015
Publisher: NAL/Penguin
Type: Adult Mystery
Pages: 337

Summary: London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

My Review
What drew me to this book was actually the cover of the sequel ̶ a Victorian style silhouette of a woman wielding what looked like a butterfly net. What?! Intrigued, I sought out the first volume and discovered Veronica Speedwell, lepidopterist and my new heroine. A butterfly hunter who finds herself in the middle of a plot against her life. She teams up with a fellow naturalist, a taxidermist, named Stoker and they go on an incredible adventure to discover the mystery of Veronica's past.

I loved this book. Veronica's character herself is the main fuel behind my love. Picture the standard Victorian woman, now picture the exact opposite: that's Veronica. Always surprising, always witty, always prepared to gouge a hat pin in an attacker. She captured my heart with grace, style, poise, and insults. The chemistry she shares with Stoker, their bickering, the many battles of wits, and naturalist knowledge are written so well that I felt as if I was in the room with them.

As I said before it was Veronica's butterfly net that drew me to the book. I have been in a naturalist reading kick (as it mirrors what I would like to do in real life). Raybourn has done her research when it comes to the natural history portrayed in this book. How the scientific mind sees the world is on display subtlety here. Veronica and Stoker are both great scientists and they use that intellect to solve the mystery which is interesting to me on a personal level.

I wasn't sure what to expect, mostly just hoping for a good mystery. I got that and so much more. I feel bad saying this but I didn't think I'd end up loving it so much. But I do and I want everyone to know that. It was incredibly entertaining, with more than one actual laugh out loud moment. I recommend it highly! I can't wait to see what the next book has in store.