Elizabeth Herbert is as free as any woman can be in Victorian England. An alluring widow with fortune, connections and an appetite for new experience, her search for her old lover John Maginn will lead her into adventures which stretch her credulity and sexuality. When two scientists pull Maginn from the side of a Channel steamship in 1862, he bears little resemblance to the dilettante who left England seven years before. Exiled by his Herbert’s husband, left for dead on a battlefield in India and battling constant pain and an addiction to opium, it seems the fates have conspired to make his existence intolerable.
Damodar Rao has been raised to rule, every moment of his childhood and adolescence carefully controlled to prepare him for a great future. Arriving on English soil after his guardian disappears, a happy accident will open his eyes to becoming a prince among women, without violence or responsibility. Together the trio must keep transform themselves by rejecting their dark pasts and dependencies. Determined to take control of their destinies and using progress as their weapon against superstition, they discover that to be truly free, they must fight an elite occultist movement, while warring against their own desires.
A devilish blend of history and fantasy, The Squab Fiends is the debut novel from Victoria Arius. The adventures of Elizabeth, Maginn, Rao and the Lunar Society will continue in book two of the Bête Noire trilogy, The Demon Ape. Highly recommended for fans of the supernatural secret histories of Tim Powers, the steampunk Victoriana of Alan Moore and the Gothic romance of Edgar Allan Poe.