Book Review: An Urchin of Means by April White
I was lucky enough to get an advanced reading copy of this book and I tore through it over the weekend. It was the best thing April has ever written, and I can’t wait for you all to read it for the first time.
Note: It is a spin off of her Immortal Descendents series, but you don’t need to read that series to engulf yourself in this one. There are references back (and you should read it, it’s really good), but it definitely stands on its own two feet.
Ringo Devereux knows far too much for a man of his times. There’s no simple explanation for it that doesn’t involve improbable conversations about the future, and Ringo’s advanced understanding of three-phase generators and the secret histories of his city are not things he can discuss with the Victorian Londoners around him. Even his origins as an orphaned street thief are far too dangerous for a young gentleman of means to reveal.
An encounter with a ten-year-old pickpocket, and a luncheon with Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle draw Ringo back into the shadows of his criminal past. A stolen gemstone, a suspicious pawnbroker, and a damning bundle of letters are mysteries that require Ringo’s thief’s instincts, his obscure facts, and the help of a little girl with the skills of deduction like his.
But are these crimes as random as they first appear? What do a covert affair and a blue carbuncle have in common? Ringo knows too much, but someone knows more, and the identity of a mysterious red-haired woman is perhaps the most diabolically complicated plot of them all.
How gorgeous is this cover?
This book was gorgeous. Before we even talk about the plot (riveting), the world-building (flawless, as per usual), or character development (omg, I want to hang out with Oscar Wilde and Charlie is the literal best), I want to talk about words.
This book is so beautifully written. April has done things with words that make me feel tingly and need some alone time with a dictionary, a bottle of wine, and maybe a cigarette after. At one point, I turned to the Beer Guy and said, “This is so wonderfully written that it makes my heart ache with the beauty of it.”
The mysteries were so well-crafted and definitely worthy of 221B Baker Street. Ringo’s involvement, due to Jess’s timely pick-pocketing, is natural and perfectly in character for him. The way he handles Jess’s concerns about her appearance is sensitive and so well-done – not to mention important for this day and age, and not just Victorian London.
“You, my lovely wife, are the center of the universe to which I will always naturally gravitate. What I have failed to do is find those things from which to gravitate toward you. I imagine I’ve become dreadfully boring.”
“All art, my dear man, is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.”
– Oscar Wilde
“For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
– Oscar Wilde
Yeah, I liked Oscar. A lot. I just want to be BFFs with him forever. Pre-prison, Oscar, obviously.
I wish my review could do this book justice, but there’s no way I can. All I can say is this is the best book I’ve read this year. Yeah, it’s only January, but I read a lot, so bite me.
Buy this book immediately. Read it. Love it. Thank me later.