Title: Memento Mori
Author: Katy O’Dowd
Price: $3.99 (ebook) / $11.69 (paperback)
Publisher: Untold Press
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib
The back-cover blurb for this book talks about taking a walk with the Victorian English Mafia. I have to say, I wish I had read that first, because I found myself wasting sympathy on the death of an English crime lord in Chapter 1. I eventually caught on, although in fairness to the author, I was supposed to find Mr. Lamb sympathetic.
Memento Mori is a difficult book to categorize. I’ve ended up listing it as “steampunk” but even that’s a bit unfair. There’s nothing in the book that’s not solidly within Victorian technologies. However, its sensibilities are distinctly non-Victorian, featuring a female Irish assassin, O’Murtagh, working on behalf of a young woman, Carmine Fox. O’Murtagh is given a list of enemies to kill by Fox, and she goes to work, rather gleefully (and fairly realistically) killing a collection of Victorian stuffed shirts – all affiliated with the Lamb family. The Lambs prove ill-named, being more wolves than sheep.
Various bloody complications ensue, including a convenient discovery by O’Murtagh, and an extended visit to London’s famous Bedlam mental hospital. (Your Reviewer recently visited there, as it is now the site of the Imperial War Museum. Any irony on putting a war museum on the grounds of a lunatic asylum is purely intentional.)
I found the story and writing well-done, and the characters well-realized. I did have a bit of an issue – too much of the plot hinges on the idea that when Victorians engaged in mourning, they did not manage their businesses for a year and a day. Although that may be true, I found that hard to swallow, especially for a crime family that may not be fully “respectable.”
At any rate, I quite enjoyed Memento Mori.