Camille, a revolutionary’s daughter, leads a band of outcasts – a runaway girl, a deserter, an aristocrat in hiding. As the Battalion des Morts they cheat death, saving those about to meet a bloody end at the blade of Madame La Guillotine. But their latest rescue is not what she seems. The girl’s no aristocrat, but her dark and disturbing powers means both the Royalists and the Revolutionaries want her. But who and what is she?
My colleague Katherine Dunn has written a brilliant book. It is so rare to find historic-sci-fi, and even rarer to find it this well done. The plot is basically “What if one of the X-Men were in Les Mis?” You have all the fun of a battle through revolutionary France, and the speculative-fiction of people with mutant abilities trying to change the world.
It is written in very short, almost staccato, chapters. Each one seems to end on a cliffhanger. Hey, it worked for Dickens! It makes reading a brisk affair as the action snaps between locations and characters.
And what characters! Rogues and villains and aristocrats and lesbian-sharp-shooters (not strictly a trope, but should be) and suave interlopers. They all combine into a rather vivid (and vivacious) cast.
A snappy and fun read – perfect for when we’re allowed to lie on the beach again. It also is well set up for a sequel (out in a few months).