An Engaging Mystery
5 Stars. My first impression of this book was that it was Sherlock Holmes meets Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It's a mystery that you, the reader will be piecing together as you go. Lucinda Elliot opens up with a prologue that will have you wondering how Sophie and Emile got to where they are and she leaves clues along the way that have your mind racing with possibilities. What I want to do most with this book is to read it again to see if I notice more hints along the way of what's to come.
I was a little apprehensive about a story with both vampires and time traveling; however Elliot brings them together well. My only disappointment is that there wasn't more time traveling. The trips to the past that Emile and his friends take are fun little adventures that keep the plot moving at a nice pace. Emile's grief over the loss of his family is moving, and I wouldn't have minded seeing more of him revisiting his past. Also, I wish I had been told a little more about the mechanics of time traveling. The general ideas of how it came about were explained, but I wanted a little more.
Set during the French Revolution That Scoundrel Emile Dubois is a historical fiction with traditional vampires. It's written in a way that feels fitting to the era, but you can understand it as if it were written in modern day English. It's also very reminiscent of "Dracula" with classic mythology, and yet brand new at the same time. You will find some classic themes in this book, but they are used in a very original story.
I really enjoyed seeing scary vampires in a story again, real vampires that hate garlic and crosses and drink blood. Kenrick in particular made my skin crawl, and his wife Ceridwen is a seductive and powerful woman who you'll love to hate. Also, the battle that Emile fights as he deals with this disease as it starts to overcome him will have you feeling his struggle as well.
Elliot's characters are deep and well written. That Scoundrel Emile Dubois is just that, a scoundrel, a highwayman, a rogue. But, he also has a lot of heart and deep down is a truly genuine person. Emile is a Robin Hood type character who gets into some unsavory situations but is always there to do right by good people. His love interest, Sophie, is a little quiet at the beginning of the book. She starts out as the typical subversive female, quiet and polite. But, as the story goes on she really finds herself and becomes stronger and more independent. I really enjoyed watching her character grow. I also found the relationship between Sophie and Emile to be real and heartwarming.
Also, Agnes the Tarot reading maid and Emile's footman Georges added a lot of humor to this piece as well as being deep and fascinating characters themselves.
Some of the details I really loved were the little bits of French, and use of other words and phrases that would be appropriate for the place and time period. Elliot does a wonderful job of letting you know when her characters are speaking in French or other languages. She's able to get that feeling of culture in her story without losing readability. There's just enough hints and actual French thrown in that it flows really nicely. Most of this story is set in English-speaking locations, but for the pieces of it that aren't it felt very authentic to have the characters speaking in the way they would in that area.
This is a complicated story, but the farther I got into it the more the pieces started to come together, and the more it sucked me in. It had humor, and an ending that tied up all loose ends, if you like vampires or historical fiction I would highly recommend this book.