"Fast paced, action-filled dark fantasy that is just sheer fun to read!"
Reviewed by Debbie Wiley
Posted May 22, 2015
Science Fiction | Paranormal | Fantasy Steampunk
A meeting with an old friend changes everything for Simon
Archer. Simon is used to being a rakish gentleman of
leisure, focusing more on the parties of Victorian London
than his magical talent. Now, Simon finds himself faced
with the idea of werewolves running amok as he tries to
honor a friend's wishes. When the trail puts him in the
path of Kate Anstruther, Simon and Kate align themselves
together in order to stop the menace that is terrorizing
THE SHADOW REVOLUTION kicks off the Crown and Key
series in spectacular fashion! I love the genre blending
as we get a bit of steampunk, dark fantasy, horror,
werewolves, and the oh so horrendous homunculi. THE
SHADOW REVOLUTION delves into alchemy and magic, showing
us the darkness that lurks beneath the surface of
The character development and formation of the cadre of
monster hunters is superbly done! Simon and his friend
and mentor, Nick Barker, are used to working together but
they have always avoided getting too involved. Simon's
encounter with Kate changes everything. However, it is
the inclusion of Malcolm MacFarlane and Penny Carter who
up the ante and make it a team. I love the bickering back
and forth between the various characters as they have to
learn to work together rather than going solo.
THE SHADOW REVOLUTION is a fast paced, action-filled dark
fantasy that is just sheer fun to read! This is my first
time reading Clay and Susan Griffith but their prior
series has now been added to my list as I love their
world building and character development. The allure of
this dark and conspiracy laden Victorian London has me
already craving the second book, The Undying Legion, as I
can't wait to see what happens next in the series!
A thrilling new Victorian-era urban fantasy for fans of
Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, the Showtime series
Penny Dreadful, and the Sherlock Holmes movies featuring
Robert Downey, Jr.
They are the realm’s last, best defense against
supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more
As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian
London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But
they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust
society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted
practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among
them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers
as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a
dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who
prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-
possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at
home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.
After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger
sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish
monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover
they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything
they ever imagined.
A bold moon hung over the dark London cityscape. A shroud
fog obscured the ever-present grime as yellow smudges of
lamps created black silhouettes of the skyline. London
its hidden nature only at night. People moved like
appearing out of nowhere, shades made suddenly solid.
The misty moonlight gave the city an otherworldly aspect
which Simon Archer reveled. He nodded amiably to
but his senses were tuned to the indistinguishable world
around him, listening, feeling for a shred of anything out
“Do you know where you’re going, Simon?” Nick Barker
“We do have important business we could see to. Or we
head to the pub for a pint.”
Simon twirled a gold key on a chain attached to his
“You didn’t have to come.”
“Of course I did. What kind of a friend and mentor would I
if I went drinking without you?”
“What kind, indeed. Her note sounded urgent, but don’t
we won’t be away from the hunt for long.” Simon then
in a stage profundo, “Something hungry moves in the
our fair city. We’ve heard it whispered in and out of
tavern. And we are the men to put an end to it.”
Simon arched an amused eyebrow. His dark hair, just
longer than was permissible in polite society, fell
over his high forehead but did not cover his piercing
eyes. Sideburns slipped down to just above his jawline
the curve of his lips, giving him a permanent sardonic
expression. He wore simple tweed trousers with a somewhat
threadbare coat, not his normal attire but one that would
allow him to blend in among the locals of St. Giles
Even so, he looked more fashionable than the shorter,
man walking beside him.
“So who’s this old friend of yours we’re meeting?” Nick
“Do I know her?” The man possessed the build of a common
brawler and the sartorial tastes of one. Likely once a
handsome young man, Nick had creases born of time and
experience as well as unshaven stubble, which made him
somewhere over forty years old. His brown hair was short
ruffled, kept without care. Nick struggled to keep up with
Simon’s purposeful long strides as they threaded their way
into the wretched Rookery.
“She was from before I met you. Just after my mother died—
rest her soul—when I first came to London.” Simon couldn’t
help the flicker of pain that crossed his sharp angular
features even after so long. “Marie d’Angouleme was a
. . . an
actress of some repute back then.” He sighed at the
“Marie d’Angouleme.” Nick whistled in appreciation. “You
her? I saw her once at a party. Good Lord, why would you
from that woman?”
“I didn’t. She left me.”
“She left you? But you’re Simon Archer, London’s greatest
gentleman of leisure!” Nick grasped his chest in mock
Simon flashed a grin that blazed in the darkness. “I
London’s great gentleman then. I was a boy from
with no great place or purpose.”
“And now suddenly she wants to meet with you again?” Nick
a suspicious frown. “In this parish? After how many
“Six or seven. I owe her a bit of my time. She was kind to
chap new to the city.”
“She was kind because you paid her way. You, my friend,
never been able to tell the difference between genuine
kindness and deception.”
Simon tsked. “Sincerity can’t be faked, only deceit.”
The two men ventured deep into the wretched Rookery. They
passed blocks of condemned structures pressed together and
rows of tenements in such disrepair that planks of wood
used to hold up their dilapidated sides. Glassless windows
were boarded up or stuffed with rags and newspapers. The
streets were full of garbage and human offal. The stench
strong. The air was pitch-black in the narrow confines.
area enjoyed its shadows.
Among the ruins stood a female figure.
Enough faint light filtered from shaded windows and closed
doors to illuminate her. She looked smaller and so much
than Simon remembered, and it struck him hard. Years ago
had been adorned with grand jewels and opulent fabrics,
yet even those had barely been able to hold in her
and flamboyant manner. Now her garments were gaudy rags of
torn lace and soiled silk. When her pale eyes alighted on
form, she must have seen the shock in his expression
she pulled her shabby cloak tighter, concealing her
“Beatrice.” Simon smiled at her.
A frail laugh slipped from garishly painted lips. “You
“You’re the only man who ever called me by my real name.”
Despite her gratitude, she glanced nervously at the
Simon laid a gentle kiss on her pockmarked cheek, which
once been porcelain. He gestured to the man behind him.
introduce Nick Barker, a good friend. Nick, this is Marie
d’Angouleme, grand duchess of the theater, queen of the
End, and thief of my heart.”
Her features relaxed in friendly greeting, but there was
unease in her eyes, the mark of a woman betrayed too often
sweet words and hasty promises. Her hand plucked at
sleeve. It lingered on the material with practiced intent.
“This doesn’t seem your usual attire. Dressing for the
“You might say that.” He studied the even more shabby
condition of the former demimondaine. It seemed
if she were dressed for a part in a play. “What happened,
Beatrice? How did you come to this? You had everything.”
“Yes, I did once,” she said wistfully, regarding his tall
frame. “But a wrong turn here, a twist of fate there.”
“What about your magic?” Simon asked. He noticed her
gaze dart to Nick, but he gave her a reassuring nod. “You
Beatrice shrugged with a wan smile before stepping back
the shadows once more. “As with all things in my life, I
missteps there too.”
“You should have come to me earlier.” He reached into his
coat. “How much do you need?”
“Jesus God, Simon.” She glared at him in anger. “I’m not
asking you for money.”
Annoyed, Nick demanded, “What is it you want if not that?”
Ignoring the accusatory barb, her hand alighted on Simon’s
chest, her finger tracing a strange symbol on his shirt.
actually shivered although Simon didn’t think it had
to do with the cold. Her skin turned abruptly pale beneath
cheap rouge. “I have a . . . customer. An
Lord Oakham. Do you know him?”
“I’ve heard the name,” Simon replied.
“He isn’t a regular, but not a stranger either. I was with
last night and, afterward, I saw him fall into an argument
with another man on the street not far from here. About
do not know. But I saw . . .” Beatrice
overwhelming her countenance. Her shuddering grew worse,
Simon brushed a soothing hand across her forearm. “What is
Beatrice? I will help you if I can.”
She steeled herself with the same determination that Simon
seen her use before stepping out alone onto the stage. “I
him transform into a beast and slaughter that man.”
“You saw Lord Oakham murder a man?”
Beatrice shook her head violently. “No. Just what I said.
moment, he was a lord and the next he wasn’t. He changed
shape, Simon. He became a monster.” Her eyes rose to meet
“Do you believe me? I wasn’t drunk. Nor am I now.”
“Have you seen him since?”
“No, but it’s worse,” Beatrice stammered. “Lord Oakham saw
witness the event.”
“Are you sure?”
Simon struck a cavalier pose. “Well, let’s simply shift
away from here. I would take it a kindness if you would
at my home at Gaunt Lane for as long as you need.”
Beatrice paused, looking at his face for signs of
but there were none. Even so, she shook her head. “Dear
I don’t fear for my own life. But someone should know.
who I hoped could do something. I thought of you.”
Without warning, a huge shape fell among them, bearing
Beatrice hard to the ground and batting Simon and Nick
to the side. A massive animal snapped its long jaws and
clamped onto Beatrice. Her terrified scream lay heavy in
fog. Simon scrambled to his feet, but he wasn’t fast
stop the great beast as it twisted its head and ripped
the woman’s shoulder.
“No!” Simon screamed.
A menacing growl rolled loud, hammering the men’s ears as
pair of red eyes punctured the black veil of night. The
creature rose on canine hind legs, tall and loose-limbed,
height of eight feet. Its snout was almost the length of
Simon’s forearm. Saliva and blood dripped through the long
sharp teeth in its open jaws. The stench of blood mingled
the distinctive musk of wet fur. The hair on Simon’s arms
as his breathing deepened and energy flooded his body.
“Damnation,” muttered Nick. Then he snapped his fingers. A
flicker of flame sprouted from his fingertips, lighting
gloom. “Don’t rush in. Don’t be stupid.”
“It killed her!” Simon yelled.
“It’ll kill us too unless we keep our wits.” Nick pulled
friend a step away. “That’s a werewolf, in case you didn’t
Simon shrugged off the man’s hand. Where sensible men
have run, Simon strode toward the menacing shape. His
shoes squished with each step in the garbage-strewn lane.
uttered a single word that was not English and brought his
hands together, stiff-armed, in a sharp clap. Thunder
The hulking beast was blasted back, slamming into the
behind it. The force left a deep crater in the wall.
With bricks clattering around it, the thing gathered its
limbs and stood, growling. The rank stench of rotting
washed over Simon, but he didn’t hesitate, moving closer
the shadowy beast.
Nick came up on the left, forcing the werewolf to choose
between them. The older man slapped his palm onto a nearby
wall and the flames on his hand transferred to the spot on
bricks where it stayed, offering light in the dark alley.
“Steady,” Nick breathed, casually placing his hands in his
Simon had already selected the spells he needed to cast.
The werewolf’s head swiveled as if debating which to
first. Its frustration erupted in a violent roar that
spittle across the alley, striking both men. Neither
The creature turned to Simon and stepped forward.
“Now,” Simon shouted, as the werewolf drew close.
Nick’s hands flew from his pockets and balls of fire shot
his palms. Two flaming orbs splashed against the
massive chest. It howled in pain; its fur and flesh were
seared in a wash of fire.
The enraged werewolf lunged. The snap of teeth came within
hairsbreadth of Simon’s face as he flung himself back. He
kicked out, connecting with the snapping jaw, striking it
the side, spraying blood.
“Again!” Simon commanded, scrambling to his feet.
Nick let loose another barrage of fireballs, while Simon
grabbed a thick wooden beam from the side of a building
smashed it over the head of the beast. Its howl of pain
a shout of fury.
It leapt and landed beside Simon. He swung the beam again
it splintered across the werewolf’s smoldering arm and
shattering into wood pulp. The creature towered over him,
arm lifted for a killing blow.
Nick grabbed the werewolf’s throat and his hand burst into
blue-hot fire. With an agonized howl, a hairy arm swung
and slammed Nick’s shoulder, sending his limp body flying
amidst the debris. Then the creature lunged after him.
Simon seized the beast’s hind leg and his fingers dug deep
into the bristly fur. When he whispered a druidic phrase,
huge werewolf jerked to a halt. It glanced furiously over
shoulder, so Simon heaved it off its clawed feet and threw
to the side as if it were a spent rag. It crashed into a
ten feet away.
The massive wolf head swiveled toward Simon for a moment
then opted for easier prey, turning again for Nick. Simon
slapped his hands together. The deafening crack filled the
alley and sent the beast careening into a spin. It dropped
all fours and clawed for purchase, leaving deep gouges in
cobblestones. Simon knelt and slammed his hand to the
A whispered word sent a wave of power shaking through his
as if it would snap the bones, before it passed into the
earth. He wrenched his hand from the powerful grip of the
ground, cutting off the power.
A cascading shock wave rumbled toward the werewolf. The
monster tried to leap away but lost its footing and fell.
wave tore past and hit the side of a building. Bricks
and groaned. Then with a shudder, as the great beast was
rising, the wall collapsed on top of it in a shower of
For a moment, Simon thought the fight over and moved
Nick, but the sound of shifting rubble made Simon turn.
werewolf rose from the mound of stone, its fur a smear of
blood and dust. It sprang with horrifying speed at Simon,
knocking him down. The back of the man’s head struck
hard. He heard Nick shouting. The foul breath of the beast
gagged him. He was inches from the salivating jaws.
A shadowy figure fell from the heavens. There was a
steel and the werewolf reared up with a shriek. Simon
glimpse of a man clad in black, wielding a long claymore
handed. The beast clutched its side, blood spewing between
gnarled fingers. It cowered from the new figure, showing
for the first time. Then it leapt away into the darkness.
“That’s right, you cur!” The man in black fired a heavy
that sounded like a cannon at the creature’s fleeting
The firearm was a heavy pistol with four barrels.
it let out a whisper of steam as the smoking barrel
away from the breech and a fresh one clicked into place.
know me now, don’t you?”
Simon came to his feet, shaking the last of his vertigo
with the determination of a bear. His coat was in ruins,
he was largely unscathed. He felt a slight tremble in his
legs; the magic had left him weak, but he felt a rush of
relief at being alive. He clapped a grateful hand onto the
newcomer’s shoulder. “You came in the nick of time, sir.”
“Shut it!” snapped the sharp retort in a thick Scottish
brogue, and the man brushed Simon’s friendly gesture
“You came to a werewolf fight without silver. I’ve been
tracking that beast for days. I won’t have you two mucking
things up with your petty sorcery. That beastie belongs to
and me alone!” Then he was gone, racing on the trail of
Simon stared after the Scotsman for a brief moment, but
he turned and ran for Beatrice, shouting to Nick as he
“Are you all right?”
“Right as rain.” Nick rolled his shoulder with a wince of
Simon fell to his knees in the blood. Beatrice’s
body was splayed on the cobblestones amidst the refuse,
twisted like copper wire, clothes shredded. He slid his
under her. She coughed weakly and her eyes opened. Simon
shouted, “Nick! Quickly.”
The other man was at his side already. He squatted and put
hand on Beatrice’s forehead. “She’s nearly gone.”
“Then stop talking,” Simon cried, “and help her.”
Nick concentrated on the woman’s face. He breathed heavily
closed his eyes. Beatrice jerked and cried out in pain.
reached up a red hand and took hold of Nick’s wrist,
wrench it from her head.
“Stop,” she whispered.
“No, Beatrice,” Simon soothed. “Nick has some vivimancy.
can help you.”
“Don’t.” She looked up at Simon. “Don’t.”
“Yes.” Simon tried to pull her hand from Nick’s arm.
“She’s right, Simon,” Nick said. “I can’t do her any
“What do you mean?” Simon asked sharply. “You’ve got the
power. Use it.”
Beatrice touched Simon’s cheek. “Aether is killing me. I
abused it for so long. I’ll die soon anyway. You can’t
me. Just let me go.”
“No,” Simon argued. “Just let Nick get you balanced. Then
you’ll come to my home and I’ll care for you. I can come
“Simon, please.” She smiled with bloody teeth. “There’s
nothing you can do.”
“She’s right, old boy.” Nick took his hands away from her.
“You’re overstimulated by your own aether, but try to see
“No!” Simon shouted, glaring angrily at Nick.
Beatrice murmured, “I’m glad I saw you again, Simon.
exactly the same as you were.” A strange look of sadness
disappointment passed over her face, then all emotion
departed, leaving only waxy flesh. She went limp under his
Simon squeezed her cool hand. “Damn it.”
“She was eaten up, Simon. The aether was in every part of
She should’ve been dead months ago.” Nick stood. “But at
she gave us Lord Oakham. If we can find him again.”
Simon’s voice was brittle. “I know where we can find him.
We’ll see to Beatrice first.” He placed her hands gently
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