Set during the Regency period, Manners and Monsters introduces an alternate England where mages help countries wage war, and a French curse has turned many noble English ladies into the living dead.
Hannah lives in relative obscurity, helping her father in his work to find a cure for the Afflicted, and spending time with her mother, once England’s most powerful mage and now a conscious corpse.
When servants turn up murdered, their brains missing, Hannah is tasked with helping the blunt Viscount Wycliff in his investigation to catch the murderer.
I loved this book! Wallace perfectly captures the mores of the time and writes the characters with heart and sensitivity, while managing to bring magic and zombies into the mix and still preserving realistic social commentary.
Hannah is a wonderful character and has many memorable, quotable lines. She is prepared for a life of spinsterhood, caring for her parents and perhaps becoming a companion to a lady after their day.
She is an intelligent, resilient woman who approaches problems with thoughtful fortitude. I loved the logical way she helped her father with his experiments, and this carried through to her investigations of the murders. I appreciated a character who obeyed the social constructs of her time, while still displaying a realistic, rich personality.
The zombies are depicted well. I loved the ‘pickled cauliflower’ the Afflicted were fed to keep their unnatural appetites under control. The laws that were passed concerning the Afflicted, and how they were perceived in society, provided depth to the world and raised some interesting questions. Like all good zombie stories, I appreciated the use of the Afflicted for commentary on the role of women and the acceptance of illness in Georgian society.
The murder mystery is also well done, and I was satisfied by how it was resolved.
My only nitpick was that the details of the Afflicted were repeated in the first few chapters, which I found unnecessary. However, perhaps those unfamiliar with zombies and horror conceits might be grateful for the reminders.
I award Manners and Monsters…
Manners and Monsters is available as a free ebook and for $14.99 print book on Amazon.