THE PECULIAR PETS OF MISS PLEASANCE
Delilah S. Dawson
Simon and Schuster/Pocket Star
E-Book - Novella
Provided by NetGalley loan of an E-ARC. No remuneration exchanged. Except as noted all opinions herein are my own.
This is a really early review but, I really love Deliliah's books and I was in the mood for something short.
This e-novella follows Casper to London as he begins to rise to stardom. When lonely pet shop owner Frannie Pleasance takes in a new lodger, odd things begin to happen. Fire fighter Thom Maccallan might be the only one who can keep her safe. DelilahSDawson.com
Delilah has created this parallel world, Sang, where our world is sort of known, in whispers and secrets. In it there are human and other regular creatures, and there are bludmen, blud bunnies, blud badgers, blud rats and every other kind of bluddie beast. It's a little steampunk and circus and Dickensian. There are also the daimons of Franchia a sentient non-human of many varieties. Once in a while one of us slips through. Sometimes it's a person n a coma, others it's someone asleep.
In this book, Miss Frannie Pleasance owns a pet shop of non-blud creatures; inherited. She finds a man, Casper, who resembles her late brother, unconcious in a puddle. He reeks of wine, she helps him and gives him a room. He's a bit of a drunken cad, while he helps in the shop, he often helps not at all. He is not unemployed and becomes a paying lodger. She's a pretty young woman, so he starts to hit on her.
Strange things start to happen. It comes to pass that she has some secrets. Casper also has secrets, but is a famous musician. Suddenly people are trying to kill Frannie. When her pet shop catches fire, she meets a very nice fireman, Thom. He comes courting and well what happens next is the rest of the story, filled with mystery, magic, danger and other nasties.
I really enjoyed the book. Delilah has a way of developing unique characters with enough familiarity that you will feel comfortable with them — important in a short format. Frannie is remarkbly unique with her brisk London air, her sadness, her work ethic, her loneliness. Thom is more or less "the noble hero with a past." He's that handsome, steadfast guy who's still wicked sexy -- you know a cross between the guy on the cover of the romance novel and the guy a woman's father wouldn't mind giving her away to. Casper wasn't a really standup guy in WICKED AS THEY COME, he seems nice on first meeting but he is a jerk, very self-centered. He grows a little here.
The paradox of two men interested in her when none have been for some time is a catalyst for Frannie that results in one of those sudden shifts in character path. Often in short format fiction the shift that results in a big life change isn't justified. Here it is really well-done.
I also enjoy Delilah's prose. It is lovely, has good rhythm, and uses time and world appropriate language. Sometimes her sentences are insightful, noticing and naming things I would never think without her having shown me:
The spotlight burst onto Casper, who had removed his jacket. The intimacy of his open shirt made it seem as if he were all alone in the world instead of displayed onstage before thousands of London's richest and poorest spectators.
Delilah S. Dawson, The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance
See, I would never have thought of an open shirt creating an illusion of intimacy and solitude in the midst of a crowd. It's this type of writing I crave. he next time I see a performer dressed in this way I will think of this and see that person differently.
This is a sweet mystery; it's easy to connect the dots between Casper's arrival and the danger which suddenly seems to seek out Frannie, but the why of it is elusive. And the love story, well, that is also sweet. Frannie's secret is as much of a miracle in Sang's London as it would be if it were more magical than it turns out to be. But the tension of the reveal is rather exciting.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Delilah's novella THE PECULIAR PETS OF MISS PLEASANCE.
This is not out until April, but I recommend pre-ordering it today so you don't lose track of it!