New Amsterdam – Elizabeth Bear Review

Abigail Irene Garrett drinks too much. She makes scandalous liaisons with inappropriate men, and if in her youth she was a famous beauty, now she is both formidable–and notorious. She is a forensic sorceress, and a dedicated officer of a Crown that does not deserve her loyalty. She has nothing, but obligations.

Sebastien de Ulloa is the oldest creature she has ever known. He was no longer young at the Christian millennium, and that was nine hundred years ago. He has forgotten his birth-name, his birth-place, and even the year in which he was born, if he ever knew it. But he still remembers the woman who made him immortal. He has everything, but a reason to live.

In a world where the sun never set on the British Empire, where Holland finally ceded New Amsterdam to the English only during the Napoleonic wars, and where the expansion of the American colonies was halted by the war magic of the Iroquois, they are exiles in the new world–and its only hope for justice.

I really, really wanted to love this book. Like a lot of other people I’ve read reviewing it since reading it myself, I expected a novel. What I got was a selection of short stories that actually had a pretty amazing premise. Think Sherlock Holmes and Watson except with a vampire and a sorceress. And… Jack? Who is oddly adorable. But they didn’t do it for me.

Maybe if I’d gone into this knowing that I was looking at short, interconnected stories rather than a novel format, my answer would have been different. And I’m certainly keeping hold of the book to revisit at a later date, but at present the short stories didn’t give me enough of what I wanted in order to create a full, exciting plot in the way the blurb seemed to suggest it would.

I need more than this!

-K Hart



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