Church of Marvels, Leslie Parry
Hailed as a “ravishing first novel” (and let’s pause there, too—I don’t think books ravish people, I think that’s a human action), Church of Marvels continues the trending interest in the Victorian Era, although its publication is on the very edge of that trend and actually one of the last mainstream books that hasn’t move on to the Edwardian/WW I period. Some of it, then, is the standard Victorian trope of secrets and corsets and strong social mores that are violated (in secret) all the time. The setting is certainly interesting enough, and it does deal with the ugly side of what happens when women don’t have bodily autonomy and what control of the female body really results in—unwanted, abused children that no one wants to think about in nice society. So, while it’s ground well-traveled in current popular fiction, it still has enough unique aspects and good writing to keep it entertaining and satisfying. 3 stars.