Raybourn, Deanna. A Curious Beginning. New York: New American Library, 2015. ISBN-13: 978-0-451-47601-2. Hardcover List Price: $25.95. Paperback List Price: $15.00.
A curious beginning indeed. This is my first Deanna Raybourn book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I fully expected a more traditional “whodunnit” type of story, with a historical setting, but was amazed to find a story that links Veronica to a royal conspiracy to either eliminate her or use her to their advantage. And while the resolution does feel a bit cliched, it is still a wonderful mystery that will keep readers on their toes, with a side dish of Victorian history.
The character of Veronica herself is also wonderful. I love heroines who “do things,” and while women like her might not have been viewed in the most positive light in the real Victorian era, which championed middle-class ideas of chastity, morality, and family (ideas that do come into play in some way in this book), it is still inaccurate to say that women like her did not exist, especially with the suffragette movement on the rise at this time, and the fact that women would come to embrace greater freedom in the matter of a few decades.
While the book is not a romance, this book as the first in a series of Veronica Speedwell adventures, sets up the possibility of one with Veronica teaming up with Stoker, who shares her interest in natural history. The witty banter between them throughout the book is one of the things I loved, as it kept the story from being too dark, despite the fact that a murder has brought them together.