It’s not quite adoration, but I liked it very much!
The twists are not so twisty that you can’t see some of them coming, Lords or Crime and villains are not so credible in their vileness that they truly give you the chills, you may have to suspend disbelief once or twice, but the mystery is tight with a lot of protagonists and not one single loose end, the story is a mix of charm and action that manages to be light, entertaining and sombre (well, sort of) at the same time. The historical setting manages to be richly detailed and authentic without drowning the reader under informations and being weighed down by heavy realism.
Really, the cover sums it up perfectly : foggy atmosphere that is more sepia than dark, a story that rings true on several aspects, yet aims at entertaining more than reflecting reality, “The Affair of the Porcelain Dog” comes right from a long line of dime novels and serials. And entertain, it does.
In this regard, it owes a lot to its main character’s voice. Ira is self-centered and venal like someone who learned the hard way how to survive can be, but honest with himself and funny. His verve is smartly explained by a bit of Pygmalion magic and even though it perhaps requires a bit of faith to believe that he became so deft with language in only 2 years, it is such a pleasure to read him that I didn’t put any resistance. But more than that, beyond the mystery and the funny words, it’s Ira’s journey from survivor to grown man with the luxury of possible choices that is endearing. I really liked how this it isn’t preachy or sanctimonious, how it is as much made of unapologetic opportunism than growing awareness of right and wrong.
It has been said a lot that this story isn’t a romance. Indeed, it is not in the traditional way, but it’s nonetheless about growing feelings, about love, about a relationship that is a central point in a story where every discovery leads to another one. I wish Cain’s potential for being a truly intriguing character had been fully developped, but I guess it’s all about Ira. I enjoyed reading about them anyway.
I spent a really pleasant moment with Ira. Give it a try.