“Demons are present in the world of men even when no image of them can be found. Their presence is asserted as a suggestion, a manner. They can be sensed in the curve of a line, in a heady fragrance, in the subtleties of certain colors.”
TITLE & AUTHOR: Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer
GENRE: Fantasy/Historical Fiction/Paranormal
PUBLISHED : November 14th 2017, by John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books
MY RATING: 4/5
Demons + Duels + Victorian London!
At first I was disappointed by this book, when after diving into the unknown based on the cover, description, and Diana Gabaldon‘s quote on the front cover I discovered this was not the book I expected (hoped) it to be. I‘ve never read anything by Molly Tanzer before, and my first impression was that this was a fantasy/horror retelling of Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, which sounded amazing.
Instead, I got an Oscar Wilde pastiche, just like Diana said but in a totally different manner. And I loved it. Creatures of Will and Temper is an entertaining but artful page-turner. It’s a historical fantasy about pleasure, leisure, temptations and demons. And sword-fighting!
Two sisters, Dorina and Evadne Gray, get to spend a summer at their uncle Basil’s house in London. For the mischievous and curious 17 year-old Dorina this is an ideal opportunity to escape her boring country life and indulge in temptations of the capital. For older Evadne, a determined and proper aspiring fencer, this is a horrible and tedious task of watching over her younger sister.
When they arrive in London, everything goes wrong as Dorina immediately attaches herself to her uncle’s friend Lady Henry Wotton, who Evadne instantly dislikes for her loose behavior and obscene fashion taste. Evadne sinks in a foul mood, failing to separate Dorina from her loving patron, so she escapes to the one entertainment London can provide for her – a fencing academy.
The sisters drift further apart tempted by love, excitement and new senses and at the same time a secret and sensual world of demons slowly appears to them, weaving into their lives whether they freely invited it in or rejected its very existence. In the last couple of pages, we get a perfect, action-packed finale full of duels, demons and betrayal!
This premise may sound trivial, but underneath it lies a quite original, genially written novel, just barely touching upon Wilde’s work. While the writing itself is lucid and rich, the characters could have been a bit less annoying. But despite that I had so much fun reading this entertaining romp, as it turns out that sometimes you just need a fun book and not a literary miracle.