What do you get when a brilliant modern writer sets out to create a series of penny dreadfuls? You get this – rollicking adventure with international villains, a plucky orphan hero who shoots like her mother, a haze of opium smoke and a treasure worth killing for.
These are great adventure books with a Victorian feel and well-drawn characters (I’d argue they’re not technically steampunk, but historical fiction set in that era). The BBC has done a TV drama starring Billie Piper. I wholeheartedly recommend the entire series.
It is a complete book, and stands alone except for one relatively minor but emotional detail – the end of which isn’t revealed for several books.
Here’s a sample from the very beginning:
On a cold, fretful day in early October, 1872, a hansom cab drew up outside the offices of Lockhart and Selby, Shipping Agents in the financial heart of London, and a young girl got out and paid the driver.
She was a person of sixteen or so – alone, and uncommonly pretty. She was slender and pale, and dressed in mourning, with a black bonnet under which she tucked back a straying twist of blonde hair that the wind had teased loose. She had unusually dark brown eyes for one so fair. Her name was Sally Lockhart; and within fifteen minutes, she was going to kill a man.