“The Gaslight Chronicles” are finally brought to a close in Cindy Spencer Pape's Ether and Elephants.
Note: Dragons & Dirigibles is the seventh story of the Gaslight Chronicles series. While the stories work well as stand-alones, there are inherent spoilers, especially where the romances are involved.
Miss Eleanor Caroline Jenkins Hadrian has had more than her share of heartbreak in her short life. Once the assumed betrothed to her childhood sweetheart Sir Thomas Devere, circumstances conspired to keep them apart forever. Now at 25, she's become determined to live life on her own terms.
Tommy's love life has hardly been all sunshine and roses, either. One ill-advised night with a barmaid leaves him in a position that only marriage can make right. And when his new bride runs off the day after it's made legal (and she gets a hefty sum from him as well), he's left with more questions than he knows what to do with.
This al comes to a head when Tommy and Nell are forced to work together on a mission. Of late, Nell has been working as a teacher at a boarding school for disabled children. When one of her pupils, with a certain Gift for music, is taken in the night by family he supposedly doesn't have, Nell is willing to throw everything else away to find her lost lamb.
And when the name of her student's mother is suspiciously similar to that of Tommy's youthful indiscretion...there might be more to this mission than anyone thought.
This last venture into the universe of the Gaslight Chronicles takes us from London to Calcutta, from Hadrian House to the land of Nell's unknown paternity. Hearts are broken, and mended, and perhaps people end up where they are meant to in the end.
Cindy Spencer Pape has given us eight wonderful stories in the Gaslight Chronicles universe. From the four street kids who stumble upon a den of vampyres has developed an extended family based on love rather than bloodlines. There's plenty of places for the story to go in the future, and perhaps someday Pape will return to this lovely alternate London.
Highs: If any story was meant to wrap up the Gaslight Chronicles, the story of Nell and Tommy is perfect for it.
Lows: I wish the dichotomy of the haves and the have-nots, as seen by two street kids turned nobles, could have been developed more.
Verdict: it's sad to see the end of a story, but the author does leave open the possibility of future stories someday.