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Unnatural Fire by Fidelis Morgan
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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
First things first: you HAVE to read this. What a find, I can't believe it's not more of a bestseller, it was so good! Unnatural Fire is the first in a series of mysteries featuring Countess Anastasia Ashby de la Zouche and her former maid Alpiew in Restoration England. It's for you if you like historical crime and it's definitely for you if you like comic mysteries or just want a good laugh really. It's such bawdy, outrageous fun! From the very first lines till the very last, time just flew by.
Let me list here what I absolutely loved about this book:

- The characters are all memorable. They're eccentric and bold and all superbly fleshed-out. The Countess and Alpiew (as well as Pigalle, one of the Countess's friends) are absolutely amazing - so fresh and fun and smart, the book is packed with their wit and all the better for it. I miss them so much already. The friendship between the women is wonderful and this book passes the Bechdel Test effortlessly.

- The sense of the period. When Fidelis Morgan gives you Restoration, she gives you a full picture of the period and the cast of characters as well as the places involved pretty much cover the era. From prison to court, you'll see it all. I learned a lot about alchemy. Since we have two female characters investigating and evolving in Restoration England, we witness the misogyny they suffer from in plenty of areas. Luckily for us the Countess and Alpiew never fail to point out how they disagree with their treatment because of their gender.

- The mystery - I found it completely engrossing. The author really explains it all and the finding of the clues and everything is beautifully put together, it felt absolutely genuine to me and I was never lost, the author makes sure of that. Nonetheless, not a soul can possibly guess whodunit so I was very pleased to have both the satisfaction of going through everything with the characters and being very very surprised with the ending (which I thought was in-keeping with the tone of the book: very unbelievable and yet the themes are very dark).

- The HUMOUR! You know me, that's my favourite part of ANY book and really the author gave me my share of laughter, this book is positively hysterical. Fidelis Morgan uses the humour one can find in Restoration plays (bawdy & physical humour) a lot and the characters are all excellent fun. I dare you not to laugh & be hooked from the first few pages.

I'm just so glad this book is the first in a series for I just can't let go of this world. There are three more books to look forward to. I found out about Unnatural Fire by perusing Felony and Mayhem's catalog - they have yet to reprint the other three but I'll watch out for them. I find the cover of the US edition much more attractive and emblematic of the book than the UK one. ( )
  RubyScarlett | Nov 11, 2013 |
The fact that the Countess could be so smart on the one hand some times and so very, very stupid and blind two seconds later is what did me in. ( )
  Condorena | Apr 2, 2013 |
I had trouble getting into this historical mystery set in late seventeenth-century London. While the author does an excellent job of invoking the spirit of the times and providing a rich picture of life during the period, the writing itself simply failed to entice me into the story. I did manage to finish it, though, and was rewarded by a interesting conclusion to the tale as well as a very amusing scene featuring Sir Issac Newton. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jun 6, 2011 |
First things first: you HAVE to read this. What a find, I can't believe it's not more of a bestseller, it was so good! Unnatural Fire is the first in a series of mysteries featuring Countess Anastasia Ashby de la Zouche and her former maid Alpiew in Restoration England. It's for you if you like historical crime and it's definitely for you if you like comic mysteries or just want a good laugh really. It's such bawdy, outrageous fun! From the very first lines till the very last, time just flew by.
Let me list here what I absolutely loved about this book:

- The characters are all memorable. They're eccentric and bold and all superbly fleshed-out. The Countess and Alpiew (as well as Pigalle, one of the Countess's friends) are absolutely amazing - so fresh and fun and smart, the book is packed with their wit and all the better for it. I miss them so much already. The friendship between the women is wonderful and this book passes the Bechdel Test effortlessly.

- The sense of the period. When Fidelis Morgan gives you Restoration, she gives you a full picture of the period and the cast of characters as well as the places involved pretty much cover the era. From prison to court, you'll see it all. I learned a lot about alchemy. Since we have two female characters investigating and evolving in Restoration England, we witness the misogyny they suffer from in plenty of areas. Luckily for us the Countess and Alpiew never fail to point out how they disagree with their treatment because of their gender.

- The mystery - I found it completely engrossing. The author really explains it all and the finding of the clues and everything is beautifully put together, it felt absolutely genuine to me and I was never lost, the author makes sure of that. Nonetheless, not a soul can possibly guess whodunit so I was very pleased to have both the satisfaction of going through everything with the characters and being very very surprised with the ending (which I thought was in-keeping with the tone of the book: very unbelievable and yet the themes are very dark).

- The HUMOUR! You know me, that's my favourite part of ANY book and really the author gave me my share of laughter, this book is positively hysterical. Fidelis Morgan uses the humour one can find in Restoration plays (bawdy & physical humour) a lot and the characters are all excellent fun. I dare you not to laugh & be hooked from the first few pages.

I'm just so glad this book is the first in a series for I just can't let go of this world. There are three more books to look forward to. I found out about Unnatural Fire by perusing Felony and Mayhem's catalog - they have yet to reprint the other three but I'll watch out for them. I find the cover of the US edition much more attractive and emblematic of the book than the UK one. ( )
  MagicalSibylle | Oct 3, 2010 |
Anastasia Ashby de a Zouche, Baroness Penge, Countess of Clapham, former mistress of Charles II starts the novel in the Fleet Prison. Her finances have become strained, her royal favour gone and her husband absconded. She's forced to search for gossip in order to survive. She's hired by a mysterious woman to find out what her husband is up to and the woman is willing to pay well.

It's a bit of a romp through the cliches of that period's society, harmless but in parts a bit tedious. I have no real urge to hunt up any others in the series (if there are) but have no regrets for reading it. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Jan 12, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0688176836, Hardcover)

A boisterous, bawdy romp through Restoration England, Unnatural Fire introduces a pair of unlikely heroines and sets them on a merry chase through London just before the dawn of the 18th century. The Countess Ashby de la Zouche has lost her place in society with the death of Charles II, her former paramour, and the subsequent disappearance of her husband, a swindler who's gone to America to seek his fortune. Languishing in debtor's prison, she's soon rediscovered by her erstwhile maid Alpiew, whose circumstances aren't much better than her former employer's. But the two women swiftly discover how to turn their shared fondness for gossip into a tidy livelihood as stringers for an infamous scandal sheet. Hired by a wealthy matron to get the goods on her philandering husband, they stumble on a murder that sets this fast-paced, funny story in motion. The mystery mixes royal intrigue, theatrical shenanigans, cross-dressing strangers, and secret formulas into a delicious potion brewed by an actor and playwright who specializes in Restoration comedy. Author Fidelis Morgan's thorough familiarity with the period informs every paragraph of this delightful historical romp. --Jane Adams

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:58 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

London 1699. Anastasia Ashby de la Zouche, Baroness Penge, Countess of Clapham, former mistress to Charles II, has fallen on hard times. Cast in into the notorious Fleet Prison by the bum-bailiffs, she is forced to turn to journalism: gathering salacious tit-bits for a scandal sheet. But the Countess and Alpiew, her maidservant, encounter more intrigue than they bargained for when a mysterious woman hires them to follow her husband Beau, whom she suspects of adultery. Their pursuit of Beau leads them to playhouses, lecture halls, the half-constructed St Paul's' Cathedral and the dives of Alsatia, only to end abruptly in a Covent Garden churchyard - leaving the Countess and Alpiew implicated in a murder. And worse if to follow, for to unravel their only clue to the identity of the real killer they must penetrate the mysteries of alchemy.… (more)

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