Book Review – The Daemoniac (Gaslamp Gothic Book One) by Kat Ross

First published, 2016

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

In The Daemoniac, we meet Harrison ‘Harry’ Fearing Pell, younger sister of acclaimed New York sleuth Myrtle, as a new client appears looking for the great detective. Sick of living in her sister’s shadow, Harry decides to make the most of Myrtle’s Pinkerton-related absence and allows the client to believe they have found the very person they were looking for.

But when the case involves an unholy grimoire, spirit boards and a bizarre series of murders, and bodies as well as suspects are unearthed with frightening regularity, will Harry be able to solve the case before Myrtle comes home? And will her efforts be enough to get her an interview with her beloved Society for Psychical Research?

I loved this book. The writing is strong and gothic, the characters are beautifully created. I especially loved Harry and John’s relationship. Theirs is a close friendship that I felt might just have tipped into romance, were it not for Harry’s insistence on being right about everything. It can be hard to find the balance when friends don’t always get along, but this is very well-written. The story is set in 1888, and there are lots of references to world events of the time, which I very much enjoyed.

I also loved Mrs. Rivers. As housekeeper and almost-parent to Harry, what might have been an all-but overlooked character was a game old bird and (not revealing too much here I hope) the scene with the spirit board was stunning; I was actually scared. I have a penchant for horror films, so that takes some doing.

“‘Oh dear, you’re soaked to the bone!’ Mrs. Rivers exclaimed as I made my way upstairs, leaving large, squelchy footprints on the rose-patterned carpet. ‘I’ll brew a pot of tea.’
“She headed toward the kitchen, still sprightly and dark-haired despite her advanced years. Not much seemed to surprise our housekeeper anymore. She’d practically raised Myrtle (which couldn’t have been very pleasant) and seemed resigned to the fact that her charges had little interest in men, fashion or parties – the Holy Trinity of upper class femininity.”
13% in, Chapter Three, The Daemoniac (Gaslamp Gothic Book One) by Kat Ross