Review of Liberty & Other Stories and There Will Be Phlogiston, by Alexis Hall

Liberty and other storiesI received a copy of Liberty and Other Stories, by Alexis Hall, from Netgalley. These stories constitute #2-4 & 6 of the Prosperity series. (Yeah, I don’t really get the numbering either.) I read and reviewed the first one, Prosperity, here. It happened to have been one of my top reads for 2014.

Description from Goodreads:
An instructive story in which vice receives its just reward.

Inspired by true and scandalous tales of the Gaslight aristocracy, we present the most moral and improving tale of Lady Rosamond Wolfram.

Weep, reader, for the plight of our heroine as she descends into piteous ruin in the clutches of the notorious Phlogiston Baron, Anstruther Jones. Witness the horrors of feminine rebellion when this headstrong young lady defies her father, breaks an advantageous engagement, and slips into depravity with a social inferior. Before the last page is turned, you will have seen our heroine molested by carnival folk, snubbed at a dance, and drawn into a sinful ménage a trois by an unrepentant sodomite, the wicked and licentious Lord Mercury.

Reader, take heed. No aspect of our unfortunate heroine’s life, adventures, or conduct is at all admirable, desirable, exciting, thrilling, glamorous, or filled with heady passion and gay romance.

Review:
I find myself in a quandary. I love the Prosperity universe. I love the characters of this series. I greatly enjoyed learning a bit of their history. I found myself surprisingly aghast ant the subtle perversions of The Sound of Music, something I quite liked.

But I’m not a huge fan of short stories as a medium and I’m even less fond of such stories told in a series of correspondences and/or interviews/depositions/testimonies/etc. Which is how most of the stories in this book are told.

So, here I am, completely thrilled to have spent a little more time (not enough, mind you) with Milord and Rueben, Miss Grey, Dil and Byron. I even liked the new character, George. I still love the narrative style and voices. I still love the writing. I’m still enamoured with the amazingly effective use of pauses. I still think there’s an enviable intelligence to the story, as a whole. I still think the covers are to die for. I still think the editing is superb and this is a stellar example of a book. But the fact that I don’t particularly care for the type of book it happens to be kept me from being completely blown away. That I liked it as much as I did, despite not liking shorts says a lot though.

So, I’m not sure where that leaves me…’torn’ I guess, between fangirl squeeing and lacklustre praise of the work as a whole. I’d still read anything Alexis Hall writes, so it can’t be too off-putting.


There will be PhlogistonI downloaded a free copy of There Will be Phlogiston from Amazon. It is, confusingly, book 5 of the Prosperity series.  At the time of posting it’s also free from the publisher.

Description from Goodreads:
An instructive story in which vice receives its just reward.

Inspired by true and scandalous tales of the Gaslight aristocracy, we present the most moral and improving tale of Lady Rosamond Wolfram.

Weep, reader, for the plight of our heroine as she descends into piteous ruin in the clutches of the notorious Phlogiston Baron, Anstruther Jones. Witness the horrors of feminine rebellion when this headstrong young lady defies her father, breaks an advantageous engagement, and slips into depravity with a social inferior. Before the last page is turned, you will have seen our heroine molested by carnival folk, snubbed at a dance, and drawn into a sinful ménage a trois by an unrepentant sodomite, the wicked and licentious Lord Mercury.

Reader, take heed. No aspect of our unfortunate heroine’s life, adventures, or conduct is at all admirable, desirable, exciting, thrilling, glamorous, or filled with heady passion and gay romance.

Review:
Like with the end of Liberty, I find myself torn between absolutely loving this and ending on a disappointed note. I’ll start with the disappointment, since it’s pretty cut and dry.

This book is listed as 150/262 pages long (depending on if you looks at the ebook or Kindle edition), but it’s literally half that long. At exactly 50%, the story ends and the rest is all sneak peaks of the other stories in the series. I was really bummed too, because I had been excited about starting the next chapter and getting 75 or so pages of Arkady, Jones and Ros’ new life together. I really wanted to see that work, see how it works. I felt cheated out of something substantial that not even a little of that was included.

Other than that rather serious complaint, I loved the story. I love the way one man’s refusal to accept ridiculous social dictates resulted in, not only his own happiness, but freeing two others too. I loved that, by the end, there was a wonderful flexibility in what was promised to be the future relationship. I simply loved Jones. I liked Arkady. I liked Ros. But I loved Jones. I don’t think it would be possible not to.

Like everything else I’ve read by Hall, I think the writing is wonderful, the humor subtle but undeniable and the sex hot. I did think the editing was only passable. I noticed a few mistakes and I didn’t in any of the previous books. But hey, this is a freebie, so I’m not complaining and honestly there weren’t that many. They were only even notable because of the previous lack of them.

I’m really hoping there will be more books in this series…and that they’ll be books, not short stories (just a personal preference). Definitely recommended.


Lastly, because each of the stories contained within Liberty technically has their own cover and because I think they are all so freaking marvellous, I’ve included a nice little collage of them for you to admire. Enjoy.*Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 13.17.44

*Note to Mr. Hall. Seven is a terribly inconvenient number to fit nicely into any sort of attractive patter. Could you perhaps correct this by adding one or two more books to the series?

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