“See,” said Mizria, stepping up behind her. “You look lovely.”
If Rory had looked lovely, she certainly didn’t anymore, not when standing next to Mizria and there was a familiar safety in that. Rory knew how to be scrawny and filthy, she knew how to be invisible and pathetic, she even knew how to be brave. But she had no idea how to be lovely.
Rory tried grinning at the mirror, and was relieved to find the smile her reflection returned was definitely her own. That helped. She also found herself pleased that the girl in the mirror looked older than the sixteen years she had been pretending to for the last couple of years. She even looked a bit older than the eighteen years Rory suspected she was. Maybe she should try on an older age for a while. Eighteen or even nineteen might suit her. She’s have to work out what age would be more to her advantage.
“We’ll get you changed back into your normal clothes for the return,” said Mizria. “And we’ll wipe the makeup off. That way Rafe will get a real surprise when he sees you tonight.”
This time the mention of Rafe didn’t set of another deluge of nerves. Rory gave a final glance to the girl in the mirror. Maybe this was who she was supposed to be. She was still herself, but maybe this was the Rory of the future – a more confident and worldly Rory. A Rory who might not belong in the mension, but one who could navigate that wolrd.
THE BLACK ORCHID by Celine JeanJean is the second book in The Viper and the Urchin saga. It take place in a southern steampunk world, subtly different from the one we may be accustomed to, but still one full of mystery and plotting. The Black Orchid is structured like a mystery: there are murders going on and probably a plot to overthrow Damsport’s government. The pace is fast, enough to always have me willing to read a bit further and see where the story was going, but never so much as to get me confused at what’s happening.
And still, the characters are the true propellers of the story. As much as the mystery is engaging, what I really wanted to know was how Rory would fair with Rafe, how Longinus would cope with Rory’s changes and ambitions, what the hell was going on between the Old Girl and Mizria. I really enjoyed the fact that the story happened both in the streets of Damsport and inside Rory as she tried to sort out what happened to a few friends who disappeared (one turned up dead) and what was happening inside her heart and her mind.
I enjoyed this second installment in the series even more than I did the first The Bloddless Assassin (new title). And that’s saying something.
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