Review: Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel

A steampunk-mystery-romance (it certainly spans multiple genres); Phoenix Rising is a light-hearted confection of a novel. The novel features the pairing of Eliza D Braun and Wellington Books* leading to the duo of Books and Braun. The book opens by introducing us to Eliza Braun as she rescues Wellington Books from the villains who have hidden him in a secret base in Antarctica. After that explosive beginning, the novel switches POV between Eliza and Wellington. Eliza is a very physical character who hasn't found a problem that can't be solved by dynamite (Brawn), Wellington is more cerebral and reserved (Books).

However, as the novel progresses, both characters show on some of the others' traits.
We get a little of each character's back story as they work together to solve the mystery that destroyed Eliza's previous partner.  Along the way, there are airships, robots, an orgy, chases etc, etc, as well the lovingly described clothing and accessories that are sure to provide lots of Halloween costume inspiration.

All in all, swash is buckled and romps are had; but occasionally the authors let loose with some very clunky dialogue, I assume this is because this is the first time they have written together. While the dialogue didn't slow the breakneck pace of the novel it did puncture the lighter-than-air feeling of the story.  I hope that Morris and Ballantine smooth those edges out in the sequel.

And I do hope there will be a sequel, because there were some very tasty plot threads hanging at the end.

*I keep thinking there must be some blindingly obvious pun regarding "Books & Braun" that I've missed. If you figure it out - let me know.

Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager (April 26, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0062049763
ISBN-13: 978-0062049766

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WebGenii is a SF book nerd and all-round geek.


  1. I'm still reading this book, but wow, what a ride! I seriously think this could be the birth of a new subgenre--steampulp. And if "steampulp" already exists, please send any book recommendations to, because I'd *love* to read them!!!

    I haven't yet encountered any of the clunky dialogue alluded to in this review. I'm not saying it isn't there; as I've stated, I'm still in the middle of the book. What I *have* encountered are action sequences which have caught me grinning from ear to ear, and even applauding at one point (Yes, I know, it surprised me as well!). The banter is witty, the pace is brisk, and the whole experience so far is nothing short of cinematic! It's surprised me how long it's taken to read this book, but now that I think on it, I believe part of this is due to the fact that I don't want it to end, and the longer I can drag it out, the longer it will last. Having said that, with such a wondrous yarn, the authors are making my restraint *most* difficult indeed!

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