I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed the previous two books in this fantasy Gaslamp novella series – see my review of Delicious Death. So I was delighted when I realised the arc for Spirit Guide was also available on Netgalley.
BLURB: Saddled with a bumbling apprentice, a drunk soldier, and a prickly nobleman who won’t explain why he hasn’t paid a proper call, Elinor must decide if the Society is hiding something from her. When the investigation reveals a connection to an old rival, she finds herself going it alone, something Tristan had demanded she not do. Will her dance with ghosts be a permanent arrangement? And when Tristan Fontaine discovers her missing, who will be able to face his wrath?
Elinor Chalamet uses her wits and her ghost-talking skills to hunt for her father’s killer in Alenbonné, a coastal city where ghosts walk at all hours. The third of a six-part gaslamp fantasy ghost mystery series featuring a Sherlock Holmes-like female character in a slow burn romance.
REVIEW: These books are set in a country resembling France in a Victorian-type era. Nash gives further information on the world in her excellent appendix which works really well with novellas, as it provides information without holding up the pace of the story. And in a book of a shorter length, particularly an adventure, getting the pacing spot on is important.
I really enjoy the character progression from one book to the next. And this time around, we see cracks in the normally imperturbable Elinor. When encountering Tristan Fontaine for the first time in this adventure, she is thoroughly fed up at his tendency to seem increasingly attracted to her – only to disappear completely until he needs her on a case, again. Not surprisingly, she isn’t happy with his behaviour. However, she is also fraying somewhat at the edges due to having an apprentice foisted on her that she didn’t want.
I also enjoyed the introduction of a newbie to scene. We are introduced to Elinor in the first book as someone already highly accomplished and it’s only when watching the flailing efforts of Twyla that we appreciate just how adept Elinor is. It’s also fun to learn more about the mysterious Morpheus Society, which has been mentioned in the previous two book. I would add at this stage – if you’re in the habit of crashing midway into series, I don’t advise it with this particular adventure. While Nash is too experienced to allow you to flounder, too much going on here resonates with previous events for you to get the full extent of the story if you’re only starting here.
Elinor is in real danger in this book – Nash’s villains are always satisfyingly horrible, but this time around, she actually gets hurt by a particularly nasty antagonist. While I never like seeing my favourite protagonists suffer too much – it was informative to get underneath Elinor’s façade of control. Given there are elements of Sherlock Holmes in her character, it’s important that we see her vulnerability and I think Nash did a very good job of humanising her in this slice of the series. I’m not a huge fan of novellas, as far too often I feel that the pacing or characterisation suffers with the shorter length, but Nash has the writing chops to gauge the story beats absolutely perfectly within the word count. This is a series I’m thoroughly enjoying and looking forward to the fourth book in the series. While I obtained an arc of Spirit Guide from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.