That Inevitable Victorian Thing
By: E.K. Johnston
# of pages: 330
Set in a near-future world where the British Empire was preserved, not by the cost of blood and theft but by effort of repatriation and promises kept, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a novel of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world.
Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendant of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she’ll have one summer incognito in a far corner of empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire’s greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process —just like the first Queen Victoria.
My review: I’ll be honest, I decided to read this book solely based on the cover. The description also sounds good, but it was mainly the pretty cover! I didn’t have super high expectations so thankfully I wasn’t too disappointed, because as great as the cover is, the book isn’t so great.
The story is about a handful of teenagers living in a future British Empire. In Canada, the debutante season is in full swing. The crown princess, Margaret, is undercover in Toronto so that she can have a last few months to herself before assuming the responsibilities that come with ruling a worldwide empire. She stays with Elizabeth and meets Helena and August at the various upper class functions they all attend throughout the season.
The future British Empire is peacefully ruled thanks to society being built around “genetic matchmaking.” Supposedly, decisions such as who has money, who rules, who marries who, who is influential, etc, are based purely on the decisions of a computer. The entire world is doing really well with this except for the United States because they were rebellious and didn’t embrace the Empire’s peaceful reign (can I insert a laughing-so-hard-I’m-crying emoji here?). Except the Southern U.S. because the slaves revolted and, of course, made the reasonable choice to join the empire.
Sounds like a cool concept for a book, right? And it is. It just wasn’t well written. And honestly, with such an advanced society that trusts the computer above all, why would you need to hide your sexuality and choice for a mate? Perhaps that was supposed to be the point of the book, that things weren’t as perfect as they seemed, but it didn’t come across that way. The ending was a let down and didn’t make sense, but overall the book had some cute moments and it is cool to think of a future society similar to the one presented in this novel.
Why I gave this book 3/5 stars: The setting was a cool concept and the characters were okay, but the book wasn’t as seamless as it could have been, the end left me wondering what was the point.