Friday, June 1, 2012

Review: The Janus Affair (Ministry of Peculiar Occurences, #2)

The Janus Affair (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, #2)The Janus Affair by Philippa Ballantine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been a year since Agent Eliza Braun was pulled from the field due to insubordination (temper, temper, Miss Braun!) and sentenced to work in the archives with Mr. Wellington Thornhill Books, the archivist. Nothing remotely exciting has happened since their very first case together, the one involving a secret society, and Miss Braun is starting to become restless. She needn’t worry, though, since trouble is attracted to her just as Eliza is attracted to trouble, and before you know it, our dashing archivist and our colonial pepperpot find themselves entangled in a complicated case involving missing suffragists, teleportation, ghosts from the past and quite a few explosions. Of course, Eliza and Welly aren’t supposed to be working outside the archives at all, but the field agent assigned to the case has been neglecting his duties in the worst possible way and meanwhile, women from the movement are still disappearing.

Unlike the first installment, The Janus Affair was harder to get into. The beginning was pretty slow compared to the explosive opening scene of Phoenix Rising. I struggled with the first 80 pages for five days straight, giving up and then forcing myself to restart, only to give up again after 10 pages or so. But when things finally started moving, when Eliza and Welly reminded me just how extraordinarily witty (and dysfunctional) they are, I wanted to kick myself for waiting so long to push through the beginning.

I should have remembered how wonderful these two characters are when they interact, how amusing when they snap at each other and, despite all their bickering, how protective they become when a third party goes after one of them.

”Your faith in my abilities does inspire me as would Helen’s visage,” snipped Wellington.
“Helen had a thousand ships covering her backside, mate.” Eliza shrugged, motioning to him. “I have an Archivist who’s afraid of guns. You figure out who has the better deal.”

There is more of everything in The Janus Affair: more action, more humor, more inventions, more peculiar occurrences, more witty banter and (ahem!) more unresolved sexual tension. My poor Books is too nerdy and shy to admit to himself, let alone to Eliza, how he really feels, but the arrival of Eliza’s old flame from New Zealand might just push him over the edge. Everyone has secrets, right? Even our gentle archivist has a surprise or two in store.

This, my darlings, is steampunk at its best! I’m not exactly an expert on the genre, but I do recognize quality when I see it, and spouses Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris delivered quality work not once, but two times. From the language (especially language!) and society to the intriguing inventions, even the smallest detail is in its place. If you intend to read one steampunk in your life, this is what you should choose. Ballantine and Morris know what they’re doing.


  1. I want it but I suppose I should read the first part first...

  2. I don't think I've ever heard of this series and I don't think I'm a huge fan of steampunk but Eliza and Welly sound like a fun pair and I'd be willing to give this a go and try something new!

  3. I really need to try out some more steampunk, this does sound like an awesome read, there's nothing I like more than loads of unresolved sexual attention and witty banter! :)

  4. This is where I make that awkward 'I didn't read this review but I'm commenting anyway' post...BECAUSE you just mentioned this series to me on my blog yesterday as a great example of a husband and wife writing team, and I looked it up, and it sounds AWESOME. I'm so glad to see that you've enjoyed the second installment so much. I've read some pretty limp attempts at steampunk, but this one looks like it's done right, and that means it'll be awesome. Thanks for the rec!

  5. I'm still not even sure what exactly makes a story steampunk but this one sounds exciting. I love witty snarky humor! Excellent review as usual, Maja.

  6. Steampunk at its best? I'm so completely sold! I don't think I've read a single steampunk book since Destiny's Fire (or not that I remember haha which probably means it didn't make much of an impression) so this sounds like the perfect book to get me back into the genre! Even with the slower beginning, I think I'll be enjoying Eliza and Wellington's (LOL love his name!) fun interactions too much to care! x)

    Amazingly beautiful review, Maja! I want to know what their love-complications and secrets are! :) <3

  7. I have to say that I've never been a fan of steampunk. But I love snark and banters between characters. Add UST to that and I'm pretty much sold!

    Wonderful review, Maja! :)

  8. Hi there. I'm Tee Morris, one of the authors of THE JANUS AFFAIR.

    Thank you all so much for your kind words and enthusiasm for our book. We're well aware that you all have a LOT of books, old and new, to choose from, and the fact you all are talking about us means a lot to us.

    As for those of you who are wondering "What is steampunk?" Pip and I would like to offer two resources. First is our blog where we offer up our definition...

    Another look at what steampunk is, from a visual perspective, is at the book trailer Pip and I just made live on YouTube...

    And if you would care to sample the Ministry world before diving into the books, we also offer up free audio short stories. We call the podcast Tales from the Archives, and feature original works from ourselves as well as other authors of steampunk, science fiction, and paranormal romance.

    Again, thank you all for the review and discussion. We hope you enjoy our steampunk adventures!

  9. Hi Maja! I know I am just beginning to get an appreciation for steampunk. I was curious about this one when I saw it on your I'm Reading section. The cover drew me in. This sounds like fun, great leads bantering back and forth, Steampunk inventions and action! Sign me up!

  10. I haven't read many steampunk novels but I have mostly enjoyed the ones I have come across so far. This one sounds like another to add to the list! Great review, Maja. I'm glad to hear you managed to push through the beginning and it turned out to be a great read. :)

  11. Fantastic review Maja! I haven't heard of this series yet but this book sounds great. I know some books that have slow beginnings that end up great too. I love characters that have perfect banter!
    I am planing to try some Steampunk soon so I will definitely check out the first book and see if i like it.

  12. I've never heard of this series before. Thanks for such an amazing review and for bringing this book to light. I love steampunk and I must get my hands on the first book. Honestly, I hate when books have slow beginnings, but I hardly ever put down a book after starting it, no matter how awful it is.

  13. I had to go add the first book to my to-read list after reading this! This series sounds like fun! :)

  14. I haven't heard of this series before. It's going to my to-read list, despite the first part of the second book being hard to get into!! The character interactions and plot sounds amazing!! :) The cover looks so awesome as well! I mean, look at it! I totally want to meet the characters in the cover! xD

  15. Wow this book seems fun and different! Thanks so much for putting it on my radar!! Awesome sauce review! <3

    Riya (The Teen Book Guru)

  16. 'Steampunk at its best'? Seems like the best series to start my journey in steampunk genre!! I don't remember having ever read any steampunk, but this one sounds too good to miss! <3 I'm so glad that you really enjoyed this book! Now I'm off, hunting the first book to the nearest bookstore! <3 FANTASTIC review like always, Maja dear! <3 :)

  17. This sounds a bit like The Laundry Files.

    Well, no, not really-the Files are more geeky. But the whole witty part, the mysteries, the ghost and the weird? Plus the quality? Yeah, that works. And since Laundry's one of my faves and you think I should read this... Then I shall. Definitely!

    Thanks for sharing, Maja!


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