A mother's love for her child sends her on a dangerous mission in Cindy Spencer Pape's 'Ashes and Alchemy.'
Note: Ashes & Alchemy is the sixth story of the Gaslight Chronicles series. While the stories work well as stand-alones, there are inherent spoilers, especially where the romances are involved.
Minerva Shaw is desperate. Her four-year-old daughter Ivy is deathly ill, with a fever and body aches for the last three days. She's already lost her job as a seamstress for missing work, so her financial situation has moved from unstable to dire. But there must be at least one doctor in London willing to see her daughter on credit, and no matter how cold and windy it is, she's determined to find him.
Sebastian Brown lives next door to just such a doctor. Rattling around alone in his family home, Seb nearly got married back when he was serving in India. He lost the woman he loved to plague before he could marry her, though, and now he lives by himself, swearing off love and marriage forever.
On that fateful night, Minerva ends up on the wrong stoop, and Sebastian opens the door to find a remarkably determined woman. With no beds left at Doctor Grant's infirmary, Seb insists that the small family stay with him in his guest room, which is fortunate, because no one has seen a disease like this before. Science is just starting to understand the little creatures that cause people to become sick, and it seems as if this might have been created in a laboratory, rather than in nature.
And little Ivy's slightly pointed ears beg investigation as well.
Cindy Spencer Pape continues her Gaslight Chronicles series with another novella filled with independent women and wounded-heart men. We get visits from past favorite characters, and just a bit of the magic that makes this series so wonderful. Sadly it's not a full-length novel, but when the writing and characters are as wonderful as this, the reader is excited to receive whatever she can get.
Highs: As always, the revisits from our previous heroines are always welcome.
Lows: I wish that this had been a longer book, with more details into Wink's investigation and the other small side stories.
Verdict: An unfortunately short but wonderfully written addition to the series.
Further Reading: A Study in Silks, Soulless, God Save the Queen