After being ignominiously shipped out of England following their participation in the Janus affair, Braun and Books are ready to prove their worth as agents. But what starts as a simple mission in the States - intended to keep them out of trouble - suddenly turns into a scandalous and convoluted case that has connections reaching as far as Her Majesty the Queen. Even with the help of two American agents from the Office of the Supernatural and the Metaphysical, Braun and Books have their work cut out for them as their chief suspect in a rash of nautical and aerial disasters is none other than Thomas Edison. Between the fantastic electric machines of Edison, the eccentricities of MoPO consultant Nikola Tesla, and the mysterious machinations of a new threat known only as the Maestro, they may find themselves in far worse danger than they ever have been in before.
©2014 Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris (P)2014 Tantor
This story started out in the usual way of a Books and Braun novel with the two of them starting an assignment. This time it was in America. Although I thought there was too much of Welly's car in the story, the interactions with America - dressed up a lot like the wild west with steampunk, was really good. All the way through it was as quality as any other of the Ministry novels but I think they really outdid themselves at the end. I won't give away any details except to say that you actually meet the Maestro and boy won't you be surprised. - Or maybe not, but I sure was.
So my suggestion on this one is : Yes Read It !! . . Read them in order for the best effect. You can read this one as a single, but you'll be missing parts of the story that help fill things out.
Audiobooks are great tool in dealing with my ADHD. They limit distractions while listening and I don't have to sit still. PS. I can't spell
Love the Series, Love the Characters and Love the Action; with that said, I'll be blunt, this was my least favourite installment so far. Why? I hate romantic angst, especially when it seems be slapped onto a story line like Bondo on a cheap auto body repair. I get little enjoyment from the peaks and valleys of the "will-they won't-they" type sub plot because the longer it continues the greater the chance it will become the main plot. If the main characters' on again off again relationship become the sole focus of the plot, you're left with only two outcomes: the main characters are never happy, or, the main characters get happy and the series dies.
Sorry about the negative tone of my review, I really do love this series and I did enjoy most of the story. The introduction to all things American and the vilification of Edison were fantastic.
Will I get the next installment? Yes I will. I can't wait.
I would hand this to any young adult or adult who likes fiction--especially if they're into steampunk. It's well written, with a fast moving plot and a cast of vivid, fascinating characters.
I couldn't decide which characters I liked best--they were all incredible and I wanted to get to know them each personally. We get more and deeper insights into the series story arc as well, which is awesome. And, of course, the romantic byplay is highly entertaining. And, of course, seeing the fight between Edison and Tesla in a new context is awesome if you're at all familiar with their real life story. The descriptive quality of the narrative is also worth mentioning--the world is brilliant and alive, but holds also some of the creeping edginess of good horror, with a sort of sepia overtone as the result of its setting in time. REALLY good narrative flavor.
I love Langton's narration of these books! I think I've only heard him do this series, but he does an excellent job with the various accents involved--especially when it comes to a character with their own strong native accent attempting to mimic someone else's! Very nice. Of course, I always want to hear Pip's voice doing Eliza and Tee's doing Wellington. But Mr. Lanton does both of their voices well enough that I am not jarred and can almost hear the voices as I've come to know them through the authors.
The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences has been described as "Steampunk X-Files". If you're at all familiar with these two things, then you have grasped the flavor of these books. But don't just read them for that delightful combination--read them for the elegance of the narrative, and the complexity of the characters. Make sure you let go of any technological expectations ahead of time--the prevalence of tech in this book threw me a bit until I decided to just go with it. And it ends with a heck of a plot tease! But when it comes to dynamic duos, Books and Braun are at the top of my list, and I can't WAIT to hear more of their story. And actually, I want to read absolutely everything ever written by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, because they are just that awesome.
Loved all the books and waiting for #4 to be available !!
Thrilling Tales of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences
A better story. Other than nailing the genre of 'steampunk', there was nothing that grabbed me in the first 2h of listening.
The tension in the opening sequence didn't feel tense for me. Bad guys missed their gun shots at point blank range but somehow jumped off of a moving zeppelin onto another aircraft, mid-air. I never once felt like the characters (good or bad) were in danger.
Any of them. He does great accents.
The reader was great. I'd listen to something else read by him for sure. As for the book itself... I couldn't finish it, so it's hard to say.
I really liked the first two books in this series, and I'm not sure what went missing in between the last book and this one. I highly recommend the previous two novels.
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.
I described the first book as the X-Files meets James Bond, Steampunk style. The sequel surprised me in that it kept up the pace and really expanded on the world and the characters, cementing this series' place as one of my favorites, and certainly my favorite Steampunk series to date.
This third book... a little less X-Files, a lot more 007 - Roger Moore era, to be exact - and it's a glorious ride! As Books and Braun make their way to the rough and tumble United States, they join forces with their American counterparts to take on their scariest assignment yet. Someone has seemingly built Tesla's theoretical death ray, causing the destruction of dozens of ships in recent days. Our heroes have to fight the bad guys, the supergenius who's using them to his own aims, and each other, which forces the obligatory use of plenty of ammunition and explosives. Morris and Ballantine have knocked another one out of the park. It's impossible not to have fun with this series. I'm chomping at the bit for the 4th book, due out next year.
Langton's voice performance is a bit - ok, a lot - cartoonish for the women, but once you get used to it, it works for the Roger Moore / Wild Wild West tone of the story. There are a couple of points where I noticed he'd use the wrong voice here and there, but given the seat-of-the-pants nature of the story and the number of characters he's juggling in certain scenes, I have to say I'm deeply impressed on the whole. There are some narrators that might not try that hard, and others that maybe wouldn't convey the sense of dramatic comedy this book carries. Besides, he narrated the first two, so it just wouldn't be the same without him.
The characters of Books and Braun are always the highlight of these novels. The authors have created two very interesting, fully developed characters. The problem is, not even the redoubtable Books and Braun could save what was a meandering story that, at times, really dragged on.
This may not have been my favorite of the series, but I will definitely return for the next one.
The main characters are, of course, my favorites. Langston's performance manages to make then two distinctive people.
A good story, but not as good as the previous two.
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