Title: A Treacherous Curse
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Version: ARC (Uncorrected Proof)
Notable Notables: Victorian setting, Sex-positive protagonist
Recommended Readers: Anyone who wants to start reading mystery
Thank you, NetGalley and Berkley, for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I think, in terms of mystery, A Treacherous Curse is now my favorite of the series.
Immediately, Veronica and Stoker meet up with a sick Inspector Montgomerie, who warns them about a storm about to break, one that will dredge up Stoker’s past and destroy beyond repair what reputation he’s built back up for himself. John de Morgan, a former expedition partner of Stoker’s, has gone missing along with a priceless diadem belonging to an Egyptian princess, leaving behind a wife too distraught to answer any further questions.
Signs point to foul play with Stoker as the likeliest culprit since de Morgan had no known enemies save for Stoker. Worse, that wife he left behind? Meet Caroline de Morgan, formerly Caroline Templeton-Vane, Stoker’s ex-wife and the woman responsible for leaving Stoker for dead and destroying his reputation in the first place.
Thus, Veronica and Stoker race to discover what really happened on that Egyptological expedition, one that was apparently fraught with death and misfortune, seemingly cursed by the dead princess who unleashed Anubis on the excavation party. Now, Anubis has followed the heads of the expedition to London, and the press is stirring up rumors of the curse and the players whenever they get a chance. It’s only a matter of time before they discover the missing de Morgan’s tie to Stoker and stir up rumors of a very different sort.
I enjoyed this mystery the most out of the previous books because it was a lot more murky and complicated. The culprits and answers weren’t immediately obvious, and it took Veronica and Stoker a while to work everything out. The new characters introduced were varied and engaging, especially Julien d’Orlande, Sir Leicester, Lady Tiverton, and Figgy. I love how Raybourn writes characters, that no matter what they’re doing or how long they’re on the page, they feel fleshed out and real on her Victorian canvas. She truly has an innate talent.
Once again, though, Veronica and Stoker’s relationship takes center stage for me above everything. The mutual respect, the sparks between them, the stubbornness, the competition, the loyalty–I am a total sucker for them. (Besides, anyone who’s willing to go tearing off into a sewer with you and save your life in the process, keep them! Do you know how rare of a Ride-or-Die find that is??? Y’all are meant for each other, deal with it.)
By facing Stoker’s past together, they grow closer as friends, their bond deepening towards something more. But slowly, so agonizingly slowly, especially compared to what happened in A Perilous Undertaking. I fully expected Veronica to bring up their kiss, especially since it was so heavily tied to Caroline, but she only did so in a roundabout way, both because Stoker doesn’t remember it and because she’s sorting through her own feelings. However, I still like the slow pace because there’s a lot that both Stoker and Veronica need to work out with themselves and each other before both of them would be ready to take that final step. Here, we see some of those vital details being seen to.
Case in point: confronting Caroline de Morgan. Every scene with her was excruciating both because of how deeply Stoker is still hurt and affected by her (or rather how he let himself get duped by her) but also because of the woman herself. Like Veronica, I wanted to throttle her within the first few words she spoke. Caroline is a real piece of work, and I am currently living for the scene where Veronica called her out on her privilege and her bullshit. Thank you, Veronica, for never being afraid to say what’s on your mind. You’re the real MVP!
Also, the little moments with Veronica and her father had me feeling Some Typa Way. I loved the item he sent her (with a butterfly!) because it was so unexpected that he actually is keeping tabs on her and learning about her from a distance. Veronica’s mixed feelings about it were matched only by my own. I really hope that Veronica gets to meet him at some point and find her peace with everything.
Also, ALSO, I could’ve screamed when the Viscount interrupted Veronica’s moment at the very end. Listen, Tiberius Templeton-Vane, you are distractingly fine as hell, but now is not the time!
Now I have to wait for the next book. It doesn’t even have a release date yet. Someone murder me, so Veronica and Stoker will be summoned to figure it out. I need them.