Tuesday 5 July 2022

CBR14 Book 12: "An Impossible Impostor" by Deanna Raybourn

Page count: 336 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
First of all, this is book 7 in an ongoing series. I would not recommend that a new reader start here. The first book in the series is A Curious Beginning

Now for the official book description, because my memory is like a sieve:
London, 1889. Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian beau Stoker are summoned by Sir Hugo Montgomerie, head of Special Branch. He has a personal request on behalf of his goddaughter, Euphemia Hathaway. After years of traveling the world, her eldest brother, Jonathan, heir to Hathaway Hall, was believed to have been killed in the catastrophic eruption of Krakatoa a few years before.

But now a man matching Jonathan's description and carrying his possessions has arrived at Hathaway Hall with no memory of his identity or where he has been. Could this man truly be Jonathan, back from the dead? Or is he a devious impostor, determined to gain ownership over the family's most valuable possessions--a legendary parure of priceless Rajasthani jewels? It's a delicate situation, and Veronica is Sir Hugo's only hope.

Veronica and Stoker agree to go to Hathaway Hall to covertly investigate the mysterious amnesiac. Veronica is soon shocked to find herself face-to-face with a ghost from her past. To help Sir Hugo discover the truth, she must open doors to her own history that she long believed to be shut for good.

While a new Veronica Speedwell novel is frequently an instant must-read for me, it took me several months after this book's release to get round to it. I genuinely don't know if it's me, or the book, or a combination of the two, but this installment of Veronica and Stoker's adventures just didn't particularly work for me. 

The main reason for this is the central storyline of 'mysterious, possibly amnesiac nobleman from Veronica's past', the whole situation felt wrong to me. The reveal of the man's true identity and how he connected with Veronica felt melodramatic and a bit forced. Some of the things that came to light just went against what we've learned about Veronica as a character and I certainly cannot believe that this rather unimpressive individual made her act as she apparently did in connection with him. Hence the whole situation and the subsequent complications that arose felt wrong to me and took me out of the story to some extent. 

Additionally, there is the fact that the whole situation made Stoker sad. I adore the big, broody lug and more than once have felt as if Veronica is an idiot for not realising what a catch she has in him. She keeps being aloof and commitment-phobic, when she should clearly be putting a ring on it. So any story complication that upsets Stoker is going to sit badly with me. 

None of the additional family drama in the remote house interested me much either. I think that the only part of the novel I really enjoyed were the bits with the Maharani and her relatives. 

I'm hoping for an improvement in the next installment. I generally really enjoy Raybourn's books and it's not exactly like this book didn't pass the time well enough. It just didn't wow me, and one slightly less enjoyable volume is going to put me off the whole series. It would be good if Veronica realised that she's ready to commit properly to Stoker, though. 

Judging a book by its cover: I'm not sure I like the fuschia/purple colour they've chosen for the cover this time. I'm also not entirely sure who the silhouette with the butterfly net is supposed to be, it looks nothing like how Veronica is described. It looks like they took an outline of the fairy godmother from Cinderella and just stuck a butterfly net onto the magic wand. In other words, I've seen better.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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