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New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear
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5412418,550 (3.84)109
Title:New Amsterdam
Authors:Elizabeth Bear
Info:Far Territories / Subterranean (2008), Paperback, 267 pages
Collections:Your library, 2012 Reads
Tags:Alternate History, Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Vampires, Magic, Short Stories

Work details

New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear (2007)

  1. 20
    Soulless by Gail Carriger (jlynno84)
    jlynno84: Paranormal, steampunk with a mystery to solve
  2. 10
    Moonshine by Alaya Johnson (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Excellent alternate histories of the United States which filter in political twists on Prohibition (Moonshine) and colonial revolutions (New Amsterdam), as each book's female protagonist finds herself accidentally delving into the darker side of the current political tangles of the day.… (more)
  3. 10
    Lord Darcy Investigates by Randall Garrett (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Garrett invented many of the conceits that Bear uses here. The Darcy books, however, are geared towards cleverness, rather than character development.

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» See also 109 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
This book collects a series of stories featuring the Forensic Sorceress and Crown Officer Abigail Irene Garrett and the detective and Vampire Sebastian de Ulloa. Each of the stories is an investigation into a murder with supernatural elements where the two add their skills in an environment fraught with pitfalls stemming from an uneasy acceptance of supernatural beings and the volatile political environment of an alternative history set around 1900.

Though I very much liked the stories and their protagonists, I had expected a more cohesive tale. Obviously the individual investigations were not written at the same time and there are time gaps between the stories that left the developing relationships a bit disjointed. Nevertheless I will be chasing down the sequel.
( )
  sushicat | Jan 14, 2016 |
Elizabeth Bear is a prodigious fantasy author, and while this is my first read by her, it's by no means the last. She is exquisite, meticulous with her world-building and full of convoluted ideas and characters which is exactly what I love in my authors.

New Amsterdam is a great steampunk mystery blending the paranormal into murdery investigations of all sorts with a fantastic skill. Don't be fooled by the synopsis into thinking that there is this great romance between Sebastien and Abigail Irene. These two are both larger than life characters and their interactions tend to be about a careful balance between their personalities, secrets and intrigues.

Sebastien flees Europe with his young assistant, Jack, (and yes, because he is a vampire, Jack is his occasional lover and food supply) and goes to America where vampires are still illegal. While in Europe he is a famous detective, in New Amsterdam he has to tread carefully offering his services to a local forensic sorceress, Abigail Irene Garrett, to help solve crimes.

Abigail Irene is a much older woman than I would have expected (but I loved it about her) who has her own trail of secrets and powerful ex-lovers but her position in the colonies on the brink of war for independence as an Officer of the Crown is just as tricky as Sebastien who can be put to death if his secret is out.

This book is a collection of short stories about their interactions, so you can expect plenty of action, and the characters relationship will develop in leaps with each story. They are also interspersed with an amazing crew of secondary characters - young Jack, a Hungarian with a talent for languages and dangerous intrigues; a scandalous American writer, widow Phoebe Smith; Duke Richard and Prince Henry... The action takes us from New Amsterdam to Boston and at last Paris.

All in all, while the writing holds back and doesn't spill emotions all over the pages, the mere glimpses of them are powerful, and the whole package - the language, the world-building, the characters - make for a hell of a captivating story! Recommended. ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
New Amsterdam is set in the city that is New York in our world, in a timeline where the Colonies are still ruled by the British. One of our main characters is an old Vampire who has decided to immigrate to New Amsterdam, even though the Colonies frown on vampires, and who investigates crimes as a hobby. The other is a female forensic investigator who uses magic in her work for the Crown. In their first investigation together politics rears its ugly head and adventures and travel ensue. I enjoyed this novel enough that I will be acquiring the next one soon.
  hailelib | Jun 27, 2015 |
This collection of interconnected short stories--reading more like an episodic novel than anything--is set in an alternate universe where the American colonies never seceded and vampires and magic exist. The stories combine paranormal fantasy, steampunk, detective stories, and alternate history in an agreeable mishmash of very readable--but I suspect ultimately forgettable--fluff. The two detective main characters are a vampire and a forensic sorcerer. There are some steamy scenes I could have done without (I may be the only person who doesn't find vampires all that sexy). The alternate universe is full of interesting details and fun to inhabit for a while. The first story takes place on a dirigible! I think I would have liked less of the old-fashioned mystery plotline and more political intrigue, but I all told, I found this an entertaining and quick read. ( )
  sturlington | Jun 23, 2015 |
a collection of stories, evocative and elusive, that read (even on my Kindle) like i was holding an old Dover reprint of a gothic novel about an occult altworld - perhaps some unholy combination of Poe, Gaboriau, and Lefanu. quite a departure for Bear, who specializes in departures, and you can feel her getting into it as she goes, after a sketchy start. the infamous vampire detective meets up with the aristocratic sorceress-examiner, both of them world-weary, precise, and ethical, drawn together less by blood than by an odd sympathy, or maybe symmetry, between them. two complex characters negotiating the terrain between them, guarded even from the inside, and yet full of feeling they seldom express. ( )
1 vote macha | Sep 22, 2014 |
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The zeppelin Hans Glucker left Calais at 9:15 in the evening on a cold night in March, 1899, bound for New Amsterdam, the jewel of British New America.
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In a world where the sun never set on the British Empire, where Holland finally ceded New Amsterdam to the English only during the Napoleonic wars, and where the expansion of the American colonies was halted by the war magic of the Iroquois, they are exiles in the new world--and its only hope for justice.… (more)

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