LitStack Review: ‘Dawn’s Early Light’ by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

by Tee Tate

Dawn’s Early Light (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences)Dawn's Early Light
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Release Date: 3/25/14
ISBN – 10: 0425267318

Working for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, one sees innumerable technological wonders. But even veteran agents Braun and Books are unprepared for what the electrifying future holds…

After being ignominiously shipped out of England following their participation in the Janus affair, Braun and Books are ready to prove their worth as agents. But what starts as a simple mission in the States—intended to keep them out of trouble—suddenly turns into a scandalous and convoluted case that has connections reaching as far as Her Majesty the Queen.

Even with the help of two American agents from the Office of the Supernatural and the Metaphysical, Braun and Books have their work cut out for them as their chief suspect in a rash of nautical and aerial disasters is none other than Thomas Edison. Between the fantastic electric machines of Edison, the eccentricities of MoPO consultant Nikola Tesla, and the mysterious machinations of a new threat known only as the Maestro, they may find themselves in far worse danger than they have ever been in before…


They’re back at it! Our favorite agents, Wellington Books and Eliza Braun, return in the third book of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, landing in the Colonies in an attempt to keep her their noses down from the mess made in the Janus affair. But these resourceful, cunning agents seem to have a knack for stepping in it at the wrong place and time. (Lucky for us!)

Dawn’s Early Light opens with a chase, Books and Braun trying to catch a thief whose identity is ripped lovingly right out of time. It’s a detail that I enjoyed in the novel—great American historical figures are featured in this novel but they are not overwrought and not stereotypical. These appearances shine a light on the legends these folks left behind and give credence to their impact and desires as imagined in a steampunk world. You’ll see Ford, Edison and the Wright brothers as well as some very surprising depictions of English royalty that lend to the authentic, creative feel of the era.

Along for the adventure are American agents Felicity Lovelace and “Wild Bill” Wheatley. They are the fantastically crafted doppelgangers of our beloved Books and Braun and stir up the dynamic of the agents’ work and relationship. Like Braun and Books, Lovelace and Wheatley have their strengths and they figure highly into the plot of the book, especially since Eliza and Wellington spend a great deal of the novel working with their American counterparts. This leads to a new prospect for our favorite Ministry agents: thinking about how their relationship will advance beyond the professional spectrum. Braun, especially, weighs the implications of that intense kiss Books gave her in the previous novel and all that contemplation, coupled with the attention he gives to Lovelace has Braun jealous and wondering what will happen next between she and her favorite “librarian.”

The adventure is action-packed, something Ministry readers have come to eagerly expect from these novels, and Ballantine and Morris’s pacing is crafted so finely that the tone of the novel does not become cluttered.

My favorite aspect of these novels, and of the steampunk genre as a whole, is the gadgets and devices that bring to life the scientific tech that makes these books so compelling and unique. In Dawn’s Early Light, we see hyper steam trains, death and freeze rays and Wellington’s absolutely fabulous steam powered car. Where can I get one of those??!

The plot is intricate, clever and it might be a good idea for new readers to start back at book one just to get a full measure of how complex Ballantine and Morris have made the overarching details of the series’ plot. Maestro’s identity is revealed and when it is, long time readers will be delighted that the clues and red herrings have been there from the beginning.

Told in multi points of view, the novel gives insight to each character’s motivations and thoughts as the dynamic action unfolds. If you’re a fan of action-packed, funny, flirty steampunk, then Dawn’s Early Light and the entire Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series is definitely the read for you.

Highly Recommended.

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