Review: That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston

That Inevitable Victorian ThingLet’s start with the title: I would love to find out the author’s original title for this work, but what is was published under makes no sense and smacks of interference on the part of a publisher’s marketing department (though the cover is absolutely gorgeous).

Which is a shame, because this novel was a delight to read. As a fan of alternate history and the upstairs/downstairs relationships in stories such as Downton Abbey, this book was immediately on my must-read list from the moment I heard about it. It gets bonus points for being a UTOPIAN look at the future, when so much fiction (and so much of the real world) is rather dreary these days. 

So much hope and adventure and love is packed into these pages that it was a joy to read. Unfortunately, I was a bit let down by the ending. The opportunity to truly change things was handed to the characters on a plate, but the resolution they find only maintains the status quo. In a story with queer and intersex characters, and the makings of a potential poly relationship, all treated with respect and delight, it would have been nice to see that utopian aspect taken even further. This is a YA novel, where such things as the status quo can, and should, be smashed.

Perhaps a sequel set in the future where the characters truly turn this fantasy British Empire on its head? Even with my disappointment in this book’s ending, the author’s fantastic narrative style means such a book would also immediately go on my must-read list.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Published by steelvictory

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. Her debut novel, STEEL VICTORY, was her thesis novel for Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction graduate program in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Previously, she was one of the co-editors for FAR WORLDS, a speculative fiction anthology. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (, on Facebook (, and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits). She is currently working on more tales set in the world of Limani.

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