- File Size: 1010 KB
- Print Length: 354 pages
- Publisher: Berkley (September 1, 2015)
- Publication Date: September 1, 2015
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00SI0B5F8
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,385 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$15.00|
Save $12.01 (80%)
Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price set by seller.
Your Memberships & Subscriptions
A Curious Beginning (A Veronica Speedwell Mystery Book 1) Kindle Edition
|New from||Used from|
|Length: 354 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible book with Whispersync for Voice. Add the Audible book for a reduced price of $7.49 when you buy the Kindle book.
|Age Level: 18 and up|
|Grade Level: 12 and up|
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
More items to explore
“Wickedly clever and devilishly amusing...Veronica Speedwell is a joy—unflappable, unrepentant, and thoroughly delightful.”—Susan Elia MacNeal, New York Times bestselling author of the Maggie Hope series
“The eccentricities of Victorian England receive a rousing look in the highly entertaining A Curious Beginning...Energetic storytelling.”—South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“Creating strong character pairings, placing the action in unexpectedly unusual but actual historical settings, and folding it all into a clever mystery are hallmarks of this author’s magical, signature style...This new series starts off with a bang.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“I love this book! Brings us the powerful Veronica Speedwell, who triumphs over adversity and danger with wit, charm, and uncanny determination. A real find.”—Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River series
More Praise for the Veronica Speedwell Mysteries
“A ruthlessly intelligent heroine.”—NPR
“I love this series! Veronica Speedwell is utterly unique.”—Amanda Quick, New York Timesbestselling author of The Other Lady Vanishes
“Veronica Speedwell is sure to join the greats of mystery fiction.”—Alan Bradley, New York Times bestselling author of the Flavia de Luce series
“A treat. One of the few writers who can make history feel immediate and exciting without losing a grasp of the period.”—Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of the Royal Spyness series
“A fine combination of detective story and character study...sure to interest mystery lovers and Anglophiles alike.”—The Historical Novels Review
“A smart, plucky, way-ahead-of-her time heroine.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Veronica Speedwell might just be one of the most endearing heroines in mysteries, period....She’s smart, dashing, and entirely capable....Her sense of humor and chemistry with Stoker, her counterpart, just make this series even better.”—Bustle
About the Author
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I seem to be in the minority, but I didn't particularly like Veronica. I am all for the Amelia Peabody-esque woman who takes charge and flouts convention, but there is a fine line between being a bad*ss and being a jerk. The fact that this book opens with Veronica lamenting the fact that she can't shed a tear over the grave of a woman who adopted her immediately set Veronica in the latter camp for me. She is eye-twitchingly narcissistic, oftentimes rude, and jarringly devoid of empathy. However, what bothered me the most is that even though she is simply the cleverest of all clever Victorian Mary-Sues, she has an appalling lack of critical thinking. I am no stranger to the character who can't figure out what the reader has deduced fifty pages earlier, and normally it doesn't bother me. But it is rather grating going through pages of Veronica bragging about her superior talents in morse code, embalming, and escaping kidnappers when chica can't figure out the obvious, like there *might* be something suspicious about her adopted aunts' habit of changing addresses every six months or that the "robber" that stole nothing and tried pull her into an awaiting carriage might not have been a robber but a would-be abductor. It takes Veronica 3/4 of the book to accept this. It takes a clever reader two pages, a less clever reader three, and the most sleep-deprived and/or intoxicated reader four, where it is helpfully pointed out by a secondary character.
That's not to say that she doesn't have her moments. But they are far and few between. Fortunately, the other characters in the book are much more pleasant. Stoker is your typical dishonorable Honourable with a heart of gold. Other characters were similar tropes, but Raybourn's good dialogue keeps them from being routine.
The second aspect that I didn't like was that the backstories of characters didn't seem to line up well. Veronica is about 24, and yet has visited (off the top of my head) Switzerland, Ireland, Italy, Costa Rica, Sumatra, Java, Mexico, Malaysia, Sicily, Corsica, the Rocky Mountains, and South America. I mean, it's technically not impossible, but combined with time back in England to care for both sickly aunts, it just seemed way too unrealistic. Stoker is the same way--he has five different histories (knife thrower, explorer, surgeon, taxonomist, etc) though as he is older and left home at 12, I give him more lee-way to have cultivated an interesting backstory.
Finally, the mystery just wasn't particularly good. An orphan main character in a mystery is bound to have an interesting parent or two. It's just how it works, so the fact that the mystery was centered on this reveal was a letdown. The action scene at the end had a similar "eh" feel, and was based on the laughable premise that bad guys and the police would not immediately rush to a place where they know their intended victim/suspect is, but instead wait several hours because VERONICA ASKED THEY COME AT 9 AND EVEN SENT OUT INVITATIONS, OKAY?
That said, it was a fine enough read and I have hopes that Raybourn will make her follow up better. Plus, the cover art is cool.
DNF (skimmed to the end)
The beginning (free sample) is well done. However, as was said by some other reviewer, I found the leading lady less and less likable as the story progressed. Her initial presentation is a bit of an odd duck, but from there she becomes progressively prickly and defies convention and her fellow man seemingly compulsively. She seeks oft to shock or offend, which is tiring to read.
The mystery of why she is pursued by murderers is dragged out, then ridiculously over the top when revealed. There simply was not much I can recommend about the plot or characters.
There is no romance between the main characters; and the historical setting seemed more creative re-imagining of history than an actual historical setting. The prose itself was excellent. That almost made up for the rest…but not quite.
The plot sadly doesn't have enough interest to make up for the main character. The stakes overall never quite make any sense and the moment-to-moment suspense is low because of the heroine's know-it-all abilities. Half the plot depends on people withholding information from each other for reasons that make no sense. Meanwhile the other half hinges on people wildly over and under reacting to events around them. "My house has been ransacked and the burglar - who took nothing - tried to kidnap me? That just happens. And now a mysterious gentleman tells me I'm in danger? He's overreacting. Someone turns up dead? Coincidence." And so on.
The writing is good enough, and the set pieces are fine. The dashing rake with a heart of gold works well enough, even if he does have a ludicrous backstory.
I don't even hate cliches particularly, but these just don't have anything meatier to hang on.
Top international reviews
If I had to make a list of my favourite authors, Deanna Raybourn would definitely be in the top 5. She is one of the most consistently brilliant writers I have ever had the pleasure of reading. So I knew going in that I was destined for an enjoyable few hours.
Veronica was a wonderful heroine. She was strong, and intelligent and I really enjoyed her logic and practicality. She reminded me at times of Alexia from Gail Carriger's Soulless series, except she was far less concerned with propriety! I loved the idea of a heroine from the 19th century who had not only had lovers, but had possibly more than the hero and was completely unbothered by it. I will confess to loving Lady Julia (from Raybourn's Silent in the Grave series) a little more but I am fairly sure a lot of that is down to nostalgia - she was my introduction to Deanna Raybourn's writing after all!
Our hero here, Stoker was just as compelling as Veronica and I loved his growth throughout the story, particularly in his relationship with Veronica. By the end of the book he was completely willing to let her be in control and I loved how incredibly non-sexist he was but in a way that felt realistic to the time and not just thrown in to make him more likable. Both characters had flaws but they were so likable and was rooting for them all the way through.
The mystery was excellently done, I had absolutely no idea how things were going to unfold until they were revealed, which is the way I like mysteries to be. The actual revelation wasn't necessarily how I would have liked it to go, I am always wary of bringing real people into a fictional plot, but I did think it made sense and was very well wrapped up.
I really liked the setting and the action, I could always picture what was happening, and where, in my head which I loved. And the events of the book were fast paced enough that I never got bored but this didn't neglect the character growth. The ending, though complete, left a lot of room for a sequel and I am beyond curious about Stoker's past! I loved that Veronica didn't demand to know anything about him and vice versa it made their revelations more spread out over the book and it meant more when secrets were revealed. So I am very much looking forward to finding out more as the series continues.
Veronica and Stoker had quite an interesting relationship, he was very taciturn and distrustful to start with whilst she was so nonchalant about everything and delighted in winding him up. I loved their early interactions because they were hilarious and I loved their later interactions because they had gained a knowledge and respect for each other that I really enjoyed.
Book 2 of the series isn't available to pre-order yet or you could be sure I would already have done so. Deanna Raybourn did not disappoint with this book, I only wish I had less of a wait for the next one - but maybe I can just re-read her other books in the meantime! If you are a fan of her other books, or if you enjoy Historical Mystery then I definitely recommend this book. Veronica was a unique and compelling narrator and there was a very strong mystery.
There are similarities between Julia and Brisbane and Veronica and Stoker but the differences are more numerous; Veronica is much more her own woman and is very much in charge of her own life, desires, wishes and wants; her interaction with Stoker is just glorious. This novel sets up Veronica's world with an entertaining mystery and many amusing shenanigans; it also lays a trail of unanswered questions that are sure to be explored in other novels in the series. I've already purchased the next story.
Overall a great adventure. I’ll be reading the next one too.