story by Hey-jin Jeon; art by Ki-ha Lee; adapted by Janet Houck
published by Seven Seas Entertainment; $11.99 US
I enjoyed this volume of the series much less than the previous one, because it seemed to have much less of a sense of playful humor.
Instead of directly facing off with (and showing up) those society members who want to define her by her gender, this time, Lizzie’s antagonist is her publisher. Andrew Kenneth has been withholding her fan mail from her because it rankles him that his most popular serial is by a know-it-all woman. There are lots of comments about the difficulty of making deadlines and such, which causes this volume to read as though the author had no idea what to write about so went with something close to his own experience. It feels a bit lazy, particularly since we don’t get into an actual mystery until halfway through the volume.
Andrew and Lizzie compete over rare books, and one of Andrew’s newest acquisitions has a cipher inside. Although he doesn’t want to admit he would need help from Lizzie, she winds up working on the puzzle. It dates from the time of Queen Elizabeth and Mary Stuart, so much of one chapter becomes a history lesson. It also turns out that Andrew’s cousin is Charles, the police inspector from book one. That’s another problem with this volume; instead of showing us a rich Victorian world, everything is collapsing on itself. There are fewer characters shown, and they’re interconnected in ways that feel confining and claustrophobic.
From what I can tell, this is the end of the series. I’m not heartbroken, given the odd turns that this book took, but I do still recommend the first volume on its own. (Update: The series has continued in its home country, but Seven Seas has only licensed the first two books so far, so this may be all we see.)