STARRED REVIEW
October 06, 2017

Long live the queen

By E.K. Johnston
Review by

What if the British Empire had never diminished in power or scope? What if Queen Victoria’s heirs had looked outside Western Europe for mates, as a calculated bid to cement their dominion? In That Inevitable Victorian Thing, E.K. Johnston imagines a near-future world based on that alternative historical premise, and the result is a delightful mashup of tradition and technology.

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What if the British Empire had never diminished in power or scope? What if Queen Victoria’s heirs had looked outside Western Europe for mates, as a calculated bid to cement their dominion? In That Inevitable Victorian Thing, E.K. Johnston imagines a near-future world based on that alternative historical premise, and the result is a delightful mashup of tradition and technology.

It’s debut season, and Helena is about to have her coming-out party, which means that a month of formal parties and dances in Toronto will culminate with logging in to the Computer, which analyzes her DNA and recommends genetically compatible mates. Helena has long suspected that regardless of the Computer’s recommendation, she’d make a love match with her childhood friend, August.

At one of those fancy balls, Helena and August meet Margaret, another debutante visiting from England. Little do they know that Margaret Sandwich is actually none other than Victoria-Margaret, heir to the throne and the Empire. Margaret is eager to have one summer of living like a normal person before taking up the mantle of the monarchy.

Johnston’s imagined world is utterly original, one in which Victorian decorum and religiosity blend with cutting-edge science, and the ethnic diversity and open exploration of sexual identities makes the novel feel contemporary. One senses right up until the surprising ending that Johnston had a really great time creating this world—and one suspects that readers will have an equally enjoyable time inhabiting it.

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That Inevitable Victorian Thing

That Inevitable Victorian Thing

By E.K. Johnston
Dutton
ISBN 9781101994979

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