Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Queen Victoria, Demon Hunter

Some alert friends of mine recently spotted the title Queen Victoria, Demon Hunter ("She loved her country. She hated zombies.") by A.E. Moorat, and they ordered it for me, giving it to me before they even had a chance to read it themselves.

Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter By A. E. Moorat Isn't the cover rather startling? People did double-takes wherever I set the book down.

I'm afraid, though, that the idea is more fun than the actual story. There are plenty of jokes as you go along, and some suspense based on how closely the author bases some of this on actual historical events (Prince Albert dies young, but how young--and does he STAY dead?).

One of the jokes, naturally, is Victoria's famous "we are not amused." Here it is uttered by a celebrity stand-in for Victoria, and has to be explained to the Queen:
"Do I say that?" she said.
"I think it has been known, ma'am," replied the Prime Minister. "I believe you were once quoted in letters as having said it in response to a ribald aside made by one of the grooms-in-waiting."
"Was I? But I like ribald jokes, as you well know."
"Indeed, ma'am, but I do believe that in that instance you were speaking for the ladies around you, in the event that they might have been scandalised by the unsavoury humour, hence your use of 'we', which was not in this instance a case of you employing the majestic plural, though it seems to have been interpreted by wider society in this manner."

There's plenty of gore, several fight scenes (one in which a disguised Queen is cheered on by the other demon fighters as "Tora...Tora....") and in addition to the prime minister, referred to by Victoria as "Lord M," it turns out that the Queen also has a "Q," the "Quartermaster" who makes elaborate secret weapons for demon fighters.

If those kinds of jokes don't make you groan enough, try some of the dialogue between Lord Quimby, who studied voodoo in Jamaica, and his revenant man-servant Perkins. At a climactic moment when Quimby is defending Perkins from the forces of (even greater) evil, he
"used every ounce of pugilistic experience he had ever acquired at Harrow, then at Oxford, to deliver an uppercut.
His pugilistic experience at these establishments, however, bordered on the non-existent. And rather than sending Conroy crashing back into the benches as had been his intention, he hardly even rocked the man."

And if that dialogue doesn't fulfill all your masochistic urges for the day, there's a running gag (puns intended) about Perkin's leg coming off.

The fish-out-of-water joke of zombies, demons, and other assorted supernatural beings (some of them with ninja skills) inhabiting Victorian England quickly gets old, so the second part of the book focuses on Victoria's skills as a demon-fighter, and the secret about her that could shake the kingdom. Or, as is far more likely in this book, bite it in the butt.


Valerie said...

Thank you for reviewing this book. I saw it in the bookstore and just barely resisted buying it based on the title alone. Having read your review, I think I will get it from the library and give it a try, but knowing that it will not exceed my expectations.

Jeanne said...

Val, if you read it fast without too many expectations you can get a kick out of it. So to speak.

Anonymous said...

I made it through about 5 pages of the zombies eat Jane Austen one. That was enough for me.

Bookventures said...

Hmmm, lately it seems as though writers are infusing zombies with a lot of great titles or figures in history. Well thanks for reviewing it.

Jeanne said...

Readersguide, they ATE Jane? Then what was the rest of the book about?

Bookventures, love your use of the word "infused"!

Jenny said...

I am not completely sure about this seriously strange trend of mashing up supernatural critters with classics/historical figures. Someone told me Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Zombies? Is that what it was) was not that great, and I've not tried any of the others. What a weird thing for writers to think of to do.

Florinda said...

It's always a downer when the premise sounds more fun than the execution. Can I assume you'll be skipping Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, then?

This trend HAS to end sometime.

Jeanne said...

I don't know about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. It has as good a premise as any...when I looked it up, I found that Android Karenina is also coming out soon!

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't think they actually ate her.

Kristen said...

I just do not understand the appeal of these books. But then I'm sure people often completely miss what I think is incredibly intriguing too.

Jeanne said...

Kristen, part of the appeal, at least for me, is the fish-out-of-water humor of it. Usually that's more in the idea than in the execution!