Related post: The Wolves of London
*Please be aware that this book is the second within a series so there will be spoilers for the first book.
I received a free physical copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Alex Locke is still searching for his missing young daughter. Transported through time to the dank streets of Victorian London, his only hope of finding her lies with the obsidian heart, the enigmatic object to which his fate seems inextricably bound. Desperately seeking the heart, Alex follows the trail of a gruesome murderer that will lead him through the opium dens of Limehouse into the dark and twisted world of the Society of Blood, and ever close to unlocking the secret of the heart – and finding his daughter.
Following on from The Wolves of London, The Society of Blood brings us back to our main protagonist, Alex Locke, as he attempts to acclimatise himself to the way of life within Victorian London. Unsure how long it will take him to find his missing daughter, Alex occupies his time creating connections (watchers) in the hopes of finding the lost obsidian heart, whilst simultaneously keeping up appearances of a well-to-do family man. Concerned that the Wolves of London will seek him out at any moment, Alex is on edge – getting his hopes up everytime a new lead comes through. But little does he know that he will encounter a new enemy in this world, the Society of Blood.
With Mark Morris delving deeper and deeper into the ways of Victorian London within this novel, I find myself feeling more nostalgic towards The Apollonian Case Files by Mark A. Latham. I mentioned this in the review last week for the first in the Obsidian Heart series, and it flows through into this novel with Alex and Clover submerging themselves within Victorian society. Morris brings to life the dark, gloomy, and sinister atmosphere of Victorian London: buildings covered in soot devoid of any true colour but black or grey, dense mist and fog covering the city streets with visibility severely reduced, and – one I feel I must mention – the lack of concern and curiosity within the people of this era in relation to brutal murders of innocent people. This all added to the atmosphere that Locke was being followed by a presence that clung to the shadows, only emerging when it truly needed to or to instill fear into the heart of Locke, or Clover.
In the confusion of it all, Locke and Clover use much of their time trying to understand the powers of the obsidian heart and the ways in which the many Locke’s have used it. It becomes clear that Locke has been travelling back and forth in time by the very nature in which he meets and encounters people, especially friends and associates. Many of those he meets in Victorian London, are people he has encountered before in his excursions through time, having now hired them out to help him in exchange for coin. Not only are Locke and Clover confused by the ways in which he has travelled (with some of these visits having not technically happened, but have in his future), but I found myself trying very hard to understand the concept of multiple Locke’s, or even one Locke entering many different time periods, parallel universes, or multiverses. Morris attempts to explain the thought processes behind Locke travelling back and forth and, in the way he describes it, it makes almost complete sense. But I wouldn’t be able to tell you how as it burns my brain out just thinking about it! It was this element of the novel as well, that reminded me of Latham with the ability to travel through portals in time within his novels – ironically, back to the Victorian era as well.
Locke and Clover develop further in The Society of Blood; with their deceptions to the people of Victorian London, and understanding that, in all intents and purposes, they are alone in this world, the two grow closer as they pose as a married couple with good standing within society. Locke has always had trust issues with Clover due to her relations with Benny and the type of business she previously partook in. But, with the current situation they are in, it becomes clear in the way that they act towards each other that the trust issues are slowly falling away. In some moments, I do also get the feeling that they are becoming closer in terms of their relationship as well with their reactions and actions telling the tale in that respect.
As I seem to find with most novels within this genre at the general plot-line, I found this book easier and quicker to read than the first in that I was more aware and understanding of the events taking place, and could understand why, and who, was after them. I am intrigued to see how the next novel continues on from Locke and Clover’s current situation.