Welcome to the Victorian Era…

Image courtesy of victorianpassage.com

Welcome to the Victorian Era…

Beautiful gowns, courtship, high society, and maybe add in some murder, mystery, or magic? Sounds like the Victorian Era! The era from 1837 to 1901 is a very popular setting for many modern books– authors seem to be attracted to the aura of elegance surrounding the era and the balance the era strikes as a “turn of the century” between a past that is distant enough to be considered “historical fiction” but near enough that we can recognize certain parts of it as precursors to the modern age. The camera, mass urbanization, feminism (after all, Queen Victoria’s 63-year reign was the longest of any female monarch in history) and the industrial revolution are aspects of the era for which we see the outcomes in our present society, and such themes are often reflected in modern literature set in the Victorian era. Steampunk, a relatively new sub-genre of literature about the Victorian Era, focuses on the inventions of the era, especially the rise of steam power (from which it takes its name).
So without further ado, I present my favorite neo-Victorian books in the Casti library, and this month’s highlights.

Some you may have heard of:
1. The Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty; Rebel Angels; The Sweet Far Thing) center around a girls’ boarding school and the fantastical adventures a group of five girls encounter when they discover the path to an alternate world, the “Realms.”

If you’ve read these books and liked them, you may enjoy Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber.

2. The Twin’s Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted involves the mystery of one identical twin murdering the other: which one still lives? This book is absolutely filled with secrets and secrets that have secrets…what’s not to love? Murder, identity theft, romance, secret tunnels… the list goes on!

If you liked this book, you might enjoy reading Wildthorn by Jane Eagland.

3. If you are more of a fantasy fan, you might have liked the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare (Clockwork Angel; Clockwork Prince), which, while still set in the Victorian era, ventures into the world of vampires and other non-human creatures, including Tessa, the main character, who discovers that she has the ability to shift shape.

If you liked this book, you might enjoy Soulless by Gail Carriger.

And of course, no Victorian-Era article would be complete without the mention of perhaps the greatest character who lived in 1800s London: Sherlock Holmes.
Although Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original books about the great detective are not considered “neo-Victorian,” Sherlock has spawned many modern spinoffs, including the movies starring Robert Downey Jr., the BBC series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and the new CBS show Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, the latter two of which present the Sherlock Holmes character in the modern day (London and New York City respectively), and I recommend both “Sherlock” and “Elementary” for anyone who loves a fast-paced, intellectual crime show. As well, the library has a few book takeoffs on the Sherlock Holmes character, such as Death Cloud by Andy Lane, which is the story of young Sherlock solving crimes as a teenager, and the Enola Holmes books by Nancy Springer, which center around Sherlock’s younger sister.

Many more neo-Victorian novels (books which were written in the present day but are set in the Victorian era) are on display in the Library. Come check them out!

By Libby B. ’14

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