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A Conventicle of Magpies: #bookreview

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Conventicle: a secret or unlawful religious meeting, typically of people with nonconformist views.

A Conventicle of Magpies by L.M. R. Clarke is a Victorian fantasy adventure. The book is set in Stamchester, a city similar to Birmingham, England.

Rook is a thief who steals to help support her family. Her father abandoned the family several years ago so Rook stepped up to help her mother. She joined a gang called The Conventicle of Magpies. The gang has become sort of like an adopted family of mostly honorable criminals. Everyone has bird names – Magpie, Pigeon, etc.

In Stamchester, the Saosuíasei, are fighting a class war against the ruling elite, the Avanish. There is also a serial killer, Billy Drainer, that looks extremely familiar to Rook. She thinks that he is Saosuíasei and possibly her father.

Billy Drainer could be compared to Jack the Ripper. However, I think that he has an almost reasonable reason for killing. I don’t think he is killing out of hate or because he wants to hurt anyone. It’s more like the victims have something that he needs in the same way that a vampire needs bloood.

Rook takes a job as a housemaid in order to spy on the happenings are the governor’s house. She ends up also assisting with a prison break. During the prison break, she discovers some information about her missing sister. The powers that be are very interested in the sister’s blood. Rook has to get to the rest of her family before something happens to them.

If you like historical fiction with some steampunk nuances, I think that you will enjoy A Conventicle of Magpies.

If you have a fear of birds (ornithophobia), don’t worry because there aren’t any real birds out for blood. However if you have fear of theft (Kleptophobia), beware because people will steal your valuables and maybe your blood.

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