This is book two in a series. Read the review for book one here.
Genre: science fiction, pulp
Queer Representation: asexual, cis gay male, cis lesbian
Warnings: period terms for ethnic groups and racist ideology (confronted in narrative, but belonging to characters)
Half-vampire, all lesbian Lucy Harker is back for another British spy adventure. This time, Lucy is sent to the front to protect Winston Churchill, who insists on being with his ‘men’ in the field. He has to be protected not just from war, of course, but also wolf-men and the occasional pterodactyl.
Yes, there are dinosaurs in this book.
Relive all the campy pulpy fun of THE ADVENTURES OF THE INCOGNITA COUNTESS with added mole men and dinosaurs. If that doesn’t sell you on it I don’t know what will.
There’s a lot more gore in this one, and Lucy ‘dies’ a number of times (always coming back, of course). Her relationship with full vampire Carmilla plays more of a central role, and the two remain steamy without any on-page sex. They’re just that compatible.
The evil villain/lair plot at the end is very well constructed and quick, yet described enough, that it’s easy to pretend you are watching a fantastically B movie in a theater instead of reading one in a book. Every moment is in full technicolor, from the Martian ray guns to the clunky mind control bonnets.
Now about that warning…
The series continues to examine biases as well. Lucy challenges biases against women but holds her own deeply seated racism, even when challenged (and the authorial voice is clear that these elements are problems, but lets the characters come to that realization on their own). Villains sometimes are more forward thinking than the heroes when it comes to marginalization. And through it all, the tiny world elements that made original pulp sci fi so problematic are rectified–for instance, France and Germany have plenty of people of color in them, and when young women are being abducted to be fed to dinosaurs (of course), we see women of all skin tones, not just blonde German women.
To discuss much else would give away key pulpy plot points so we will leave with noting that Cynthia Ward’s pulp sci fi series remains a fun favorite. To save yourself from the flesh-eating werewolves and terrifying dinosaurs, or maybe find yourself a lesbian vampire lover, purchase THE ADVENTURE OF THE DUX BELLORUM in paperback here or ebook here.
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