But alas, I got hopelessly bogged down in a confusing mish-mash of plot threads and put the novel aside for two weeks. I returned to it this weekend, read a few more chapters and realized I just didn't care to finish it.
The book doesn't live up to the promise of its title or the wickedly funny portrait of Victoria on the cover. I expected an entertaining, over-the-top tale about a queen who rules her country by day and kicks demon butt by night. What I got was a rather tepid account of Victoria's early days as queen and her romance with Prince Albert, sitting uneasily aside plot threads concerning zombies, demons and werewolves.
Victoria learns on the night of her accession that Lucifer's minions still walk the Earth, sowing evil and discord among humankind. A Royal Protektorate of demon hunters watches over the monarchy and thwarts the plots of nefarious beings. Meanwhile, in London, a certain Lord Quimby and his manservant, Perkins, have been re-animating corpses. McKenzie, a journalist, discovers Quimby's preoccupation with zombies, as well as hints of evil goings-on at the palace. In the meantime, descendants of Baal (who include several members of the royal family) plot to take over the British empire by placing a half-breed demon on the throne.
My synopsis makes about as much sense as the book did. The various plot threads seemed merely an excuse to introduce different kinds of monsters (succubi, werewolves, bloodthirsty rats, zombies and demons) and to have them disembowel as many people as possible. While Victoria makes goo-goo eyes at Albert back at Buckingham Palace, many of her subjects die excruciatingly painful deaths. Despite all the blood (and yes, guts) the story dragged, with the point of view constantly changing and the subplots never meshing into a coherent whole. The characters were flat, and the writing, while it had flashes of humor, was never funny or daring enough to make reading this book at least a guilty pleasure.
I gave up about halfway through, at the point where Prince Albert is kidnapped by werewolves, and Victoria morphs into an action hero. She finally gets to kick butt, but her sudden combat prowess and acrobatic skills are, quite frankly, unbelievable. (She hasn't had any monster-slaying training, after all.) I flipped to the end of the book to read the ending, which unsurprisingly made no sense at all. It concerned a secret Albert was keeping from Victoria that was revealed to the reader early on, sapping all suspense.
Thank goodness I borrowed this book from the library instead of buying it! My grade: DNF.