ARC Review – OverLondon

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing OverLondon by George Penney and Tony Johnson. This was my first time reading work by these authors, but it definitely won’t be the last. Thank you to the publisher for reaching out about participating in the promotional tour for this book!

Priests from OverLondon’s Church of Vengeful Acquisition are exploding. Is the cause divine retribution, ballistic undergarments or something more sinister? If only the city had a professional private investigator…

Luckily, notorious pirate—turned privateer—Captain Alex Reign, has just narrowly escaped the hang man’s noose to establish the Reign Agency in Drury Lane. She needs cash fast and will take any job, even if failure means facing an inconveniently messy end. But what’s a little danger to a professional swashbuckler?

Armed with nothing but her roguish wit, her reliably unreliable crew and a rogue artificer experiencing a mortal crisis, Alex is convinced they’ll have this crime solved and the reward pocketed by teatime.

To solve their first case, all they must do is survive while navigating rampaging nuns, clockwork horrors, confectionary gangsters, piratical florists, malevolent urchins, military-grade statuary, weaponized blasphemy and sexual whales.

How hard can it possibly be?

***Thank you to Swashbuckler Press for providing a digital copy of OverLondon. I also procured a copy of the audiobook from my local library. Therefore, my experience with this book was a combination of reading some parts and listening to others. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading/listening experience.***

What the hell did I just read?! Exploding priests. An alternate London that floats in the sky. Human-animal hybrids. The zaniness in OverLondon had no bounds. Just when I thought the authors couldn’t come up with a kookier idea, they’d always surprise me with something even more outlandish. I was cackling from the beginning to the end of my time reading it, and the ridiculousness of it all was pure comedy gold.

The best part, though, was that the humor, despite being over the top hilarious, didn’t overpower or outweigh the other elements of OverLondon. The story was fast-paced and sucked me in immediately. It never let up and had plenty of twists and turns. I had so much fun theorizing about who might be responsible for the exploding priests and how they’d done it. In the end, I was stumped, but the resolution did make sense, in hindsight.

Some of the most unlikely people in OverLondon were the ones responsible for solving the mystery. Alex, a pirate turned privateer private investigator, led her motley crew on a wild chase for clues (and booty) all through the city. She had a strong personality and unending persistence, and I liked getting to see her learn to navigate her new life on land while still staying true to her skyfaring values. Things rarely went to plan, but she always took it in stride.

Elias, a rogue artificer who joined Alex’s crew for the investigation, was the other main character in OverLondon with a strong arc. He was very intelligent and inquisitive, and decided to set up his own shop so others couldn’t stop him from doing his experiments. His logical nature was the perfect counterbalance to the manic spontaneity of the rest of the crew. Elias’ participation in the investigation gave him a great opportunity to use his ingenuity in the field and expand his skills.

Many of the other characters in OverLondon also had POV moments, and I enjoyed bouncing around between them all. The rest of Alex’s crew included a lovable thief and a man with little common sense and an obsession with mystery novels, which he tried to use to help solve the case. The more minor characters, from the exploding priests to the ornery purveyor of perverted books, were all a joy to read, as well. This story truly had one of the oddest, yet most endearing, casts I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

I’d be remiss not to mention the world-building in OverLondon because it was wild. This alternate version of London was incredibly unique, and the authors brought it to life wonderfully. They were masters at dropping details in ways that felt organic to the story, and I cannot wait to travel back to this world when the next book arrives. I also loved how so many characters were casually queer in this world. It was a joy to read.

All in all, OverLondon was a real treat. If you are looking for something to make you laugh that also has a good mystery at its heart and masterful fantasy world-building, please pick up this book. I definitely recommend the audiobook, as well. The narrator did a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life with different accents and inflections, and he possessed an energy that took the narrative to another level. With all this in mind, I rate OverLondon 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Have you read OverLondon? Is it on your TBR? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments!

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