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A Case for Christmas

Sunday, February 20, 2022

A Case for Christmas (2021) J.A. Rock and Lisa Henry (The Lords of Bucknall Club)

A Case for ChristmasSet in an alternate England during the Napoleonic Era.

The only thing that makes this a fantasy is this bit:

In 1783, the Marriage Act Amendment was introduced in England to allow marriages between same-sex couples. This was done to strengthen the law of primogeniture and to encourage childless unions in younger sons and daughters of the peerage, as an excess of lesser heirs might prove burdensome to a thinly spread inheritance.

Not only does that remote the illegality of same-sex unions in historical Europe, it does so in a way that is clever and quite logical.

Lord Christmas Gale does not like people. But now that he has started finding solutions to conundrums and mysteries, society is quite interested in him.

Lord Thurston wondered in a low voice whether making people disappear— as opposed to finding them— was a service Gale offered.

The Honorable Benjamin Chant is back in society (despite rumors of madness in his family) and is drawn to Lord Gale not for his mental prowess but because he sees something in Gale that interests him.

Gale drew another uneven breath and muttered, “I do not like people. At all.”

Chant smiled, though Gale wouldn’t be able to see it. “Ah. I like nearly all people, it seems. Generally speaking.”

Gale cast a glance at him, then stared out across the lawn once more. “I have no choice but to conclude there is something gravely wrong with you, sir.”

When a poor drunk who had asked Gale to search for his daughter’s missing dog–and then is found murdered only hours later–Gale decides to investigate. And not being good with people, asks Chant to come along to deal with the child.

There are a lot of things this story does that I absolutely loved.

First, the child (who is taken in by Gale’s mother and sisters) is not a beautiful waif that everyone falls in love with.

Her hair was an ashy blond and hung in tangles around a face that seemed wider than it was long. Her eyes were set rather far apart, and were a mix of dark blue and brown. Her smile showed tiny, peg-like teeth that made her look a bit like some mischievous fiend from a fairy tale. She’d been cleaned up, but her skin had faint grey and yellow tones, likely from exhaustion and malnourishment.

Gale’s family still falls in love with her, but she is definitely a child of poverty–which is something a LOT of historicals gloss over or ignore completely. (Such as the man who spent his childhood on the streets but somehow managed to grow to six feet with muscles and good hair.)

I also like how although they have same sex marriage, the other elements of society at the time were left.

As he had just proposed an act of grave indecency with a fellow to whom he was not married, it seemed rather shortsighted of Chant to call him decent merely for withdrawing that proposal.

Gale’s family was wonderful. He speaks as if they are a terrible burden and he can’t stand any of them.

“It will be loud,” Gale cautioned him. “I have sisters. At least four, and possibly as many as seven.”

But through his actions, clearly loves his family–even if he is terrible at showing it.

The characters were amusing, the mystery was decent, and I love the world building.

Rating: 7.5/10

 

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