Following their bloody encounter with the Executioner, Sir Maurice Newbury’s assistant Veronica Hobbes is close to death. Desperate to save her life, Newbury and Veronica’s sister Amelia board a sleeper train bound for St. Petersburg, in the hope that Gustav Faberge might have the answer. But there are enemies on board, and Newbury and Amelia will need all their strength and cunning to survive the Revenant Express.
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinions expressed in this review.
Note: This review may contain spoilers for the previous books in the series. Feel free to check out my reviews for those: The Affinity Bridge (#1), Review The Osiris Ritual (#2), The Immorality Engine (#3) and The Executioner’s Heart (#4)
Finally the time has come I get to write a review for this book. The wait has been long, so so long – especially considering the situation in which we left Miss Hobbes at the end of the fourth book. Sadly it didn’t quite deliver.
Don’t get me wrong, this is still a great read. Newbury is a wonderful protagonist to read from, and this time he is joined by Amelia. She really gets to shine in this novel. She clearly is the sister of Veronica, they share some feisty characteristics. Yet she is very much her own character and I thought she was great. And there is no need to worry, Veronica gets to go on her own adventure together with Bainbridge back in London (set several months before the events of The Executioner’s Heart).
So characterwise this book is as great as all the previous ones. It is the plot and pacing that kind of bugged me. Like I said, we follow the story of Newbury as well as that of Veronica. The result of this is that neither of these get enough page time to tell the stories in a satisfactory manner. Veronica looks into the disappearance of two nurses, connected to a corpse that has been found with plants growing out of the body. Though interesting, there is hardly any mystery to this case. There are a few very simple steps leading Veronica from A to B and the resolving of the case, and the puzzle is lacking. At the same time we read about Newbury and Amelia on their way to St. Petersburg in a train, where they have to deal with a Revenant infestation as well as a murderous cultist. And then part of Veronica’s case also shows up. A lot is going on, and the clever connections between the different elements we have seen in the previous books is lacking in this one. The idea is there, it is just missing that final step bringing it all together.
I would have liked to have seen more of St. Petersburg. We have gotten used to a very believable and extensive London setting so far in the series, and I was looking forward to see what George Mann would do with this other great city. Sadly the characters get to spent very little time here and then rush themselves back to London again (understandably, they have to save Veronica). I cannot help but think though that the book would have been stronger if less of the action was focused on the train and more in the Russian city.
Now I sound really whiny. I don’t mean to be. This was a very fun read I raced through in a single sitting and enjoyed immensely. It just didn’t quite live up to the massive expectations I had set up in my head after having waited for this book for years. It is still a great addition to the series and I already cannot wait for the sixth book again…