Tuesday, June 2, 2015

ARC Review & Interview ~ The Shadow Revolution: Crown & Key

Rating: 5/5 Stars
Author: Clay & Susan Griffith
Formats Available: eBook & Paperbacck
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: 06-02-15               Pages: 322
Purchase - Amazon                              Add to Goodreads 
They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.

As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.

My So-Called Review:

The Shadow Revolution: Crown & Key has stolen my heart for the best Action/Adventure book of 2015, the only book(s) I could even imagine bumping it from its spot would be book #2 or #3! It has been such a long time since I’ve ventured into the world of Steampunk Fantasy, I loved The Infernal Devices series way back when and thought for sure it had sparked a love affair with a new genre, but alas it was not meant to be! I tried many, many more series and stand-alone books in the Steampunk genre but I just couldn’t connect with any of them and eventually gave up. I had seen this series pop up on NetGalley awhile back and I didn’t think too much about them other than all 3 of the books had really awesome covers (steampunk has the best book covers!) It wasn’t until a few weeks later while on a Goodreads ~ NetGalley message board that I came across someone talking about this series and how awesome it was. I instantly remembered it because of those covers and thought I needed to give them another look. One of my goals this summer is to read outside of my norm & try new genres or genres I haven’t read in a long time. This series just sounded like some good old fashioned fun, plus there’s a comparison to Penny Dreadful in the synopsis and I love me some Penny Dreadful :) So I figured, what the heck? I’m in the mood for some fun; I’ll give this series a try! I am so glad I did, Crown & Key was everything I originally loved about the Steampunk genre and so much more!

One of the things that makes this first book so brilliant is its perfect blend of characters. There’s Simon, possibly the last scribe on earth and the ring leader of the group when he’s not too busy finding his way to the nearest party, flirting it up with the women. Nick, who is Simon’s closest friend and mentor of sorts, seems to continually disagree with what Simon thinks they should do but ultimately Nick follows where Simon leads. While hunting up information about a suspected werewolf they meet Kate; a beautifully intelligent & somewhat fiery alchemist. Kate’s younger sister soon goes missing and she enlists the help of Simon and Nick to find her. It doesn’t take long for these three to realize they may be in over their heads so they enlist the help of Malcolm, a grouchy Scottish werewolf hunter who loves to throw insults almost as much as he loves to fight. Later in the story these four become five when Penny, local metal goods merchant joins the ranks & offers up some much needed gadgets …………..and big guns!

I loved the banter between all of the characters, but especially between Simon and Kate. I was a little worried at first when I saw what could potentially be a budding romance because I didn’t want that taking over the story. I needn’t be worried though because they spend the entire novel in flirtatious banter, side stepping their feelings and it was all rather enjoyable :)

What surprised me the most about this book was just how dark the story became, I was NOT expecting that and I LOVED it!! The monsters in this story OMG are so creepy & disgusting and there’s even an insane asylum reminiscent of American Horror Story, Season 2 which was fantastically frightening! There is so much action packed into this story that I was reading at a fevered pace, on the edge of my seat the entire time! This is a tight, well-crafted story of good vs evil, man vs monster and I loved every single second of it! There is no cliffhanger ending here, although a few little openings were left in the storyline for book 2. Speaking of the next book, The Undying Legion is set to be released June 30th with book 3, The Conquering Dark scheduled to be released July 28th! That’s right; no waiting a year in between each book, how awesome is that!

Highly recommend The Shadow Revolution: Crown and Key to anyone who loves high action, tons of magic, scary monsters, a little bit of romance and a hell of a lot of fighting with big guns and explosives! This is a book that women will love and can then hand over to their hubbies and boyfriends to read so it’s not surprising to me that this was written by a husband and wife team, well done!! Thanks for one hell of a ride, now on to book 2 :)

Thank you to the publishers, Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra and to NetGalley for the complimentary, advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My So-Called Author Interview:

I am so excited to welcome Clay and Susan Griffith, the incredible husband and wife writing team behind The Shadow Revolution series to My So-Called Book Reviews today! They stopped by to answer a few questions I was just dying to know the answers too:

1) June 2nd is a date near and dear to my heart since it's my birthday ;) How did you guys decide what date your book would be released?

That was left up to our editors at Del Rey, but obviously they made the right decision. It was probably your birthday that did it!

2) For both of you, who is your favorite character in Crown & Key and why?

Susan: I’m a bit partial to Penny. She was so much fun to write, a woman in a man’s business, a master forger, an inventor of the extreme. Her weapons and inventions give the group their edge over the villains. She is their “Q,” lobbing out new bizarre contraptions like a factory. But there is also a melancholy side to her, one which Malcolm, our brooding Scotsman, needs to take note of.

Clay: I like Simon. Not so much because he’s a notorious rake and ladies man, but because he has a wicked sense of humor. He sees life as inherently amusing, which can be a problem when you’re fighting for your life. Still I love a character who uses humor to inspire and calm his teammates, and can still unleash it in a vicious way on his enemies.

3) I find the idea of a husband and wife writing team very fascinating. I've been married to my husband for 17 years and we both love to read but we can't even agree on what books we both like so I can't imagine writing one together! What made you two decide to start writing together and then how did you choose to write a Steampunk/Fantasy series?

We started writing together when Clay accepted an invitation to pitch ideas for Disney comics and then realized he didn’t have any ideas. But Susan did. We’ve written everything together since then.

We decided to work in Steampunk because we both love the vibe of the Victorian Era, and wanted to write fantasy adventure novels. So that naturally became steampunk, although when we started VAMPIRE EMPIRE we’d never used the term “steampunk.”

4) What is your writing process like when you have a writing partner? Is it an exact 50/50 split where you discuss every plot-line and character before writing or is one of you the dominant writer? Did you each come up with and write for specific characters or is each character created together?

For novels, we have to plot and plan together before any writing starts. All aspects and characters are co-created. We have to know where the story arcs are going because we’re going to be working on different sections at the same time. We can’t have one writer changing plotlines without telling the other.

5) At any time did you two differ on how plot-lines and character development should go? If so, how did you guys handle that type of situation?

We frequently differed. Technically, for every project, one of us is the “lead” writer and has the power to pull rank in an argument. This is our so-called “nuclear option.” We have never used it because just like in the real world, once you choose the nuclear option, there’s no going back. Since CROWN & KEY was an ensemble story with a number of characters, we each had our favorites and demanded space for them, even if their story tended to derail the overall plot. There was so much to tell about everyone, but such limited space to do it in, especially while trying to keep the action high. So if a particular character’s chapter had to be cut, that character’s champion was right there, declaring why it shouldn’t be.

And when we say “declaring,” we’re being polite. I think we gave our cat a twitch as we “debated” the situation. We’re sorry, Marlowe.

6) What was the most challenging, and the most rewarding aspect of working together to write The Shadow Revolution Series?

The most challenging aspect was to create and develop intriguing characters while making sure the books were fast-paced action thrillers.

We found ourselves thinking of this book like a superhero comic, a team book like the Avengers or the Justice League. We have a history in comics and to be able to bring that to our prose was exciting. However, orchestrating such an ensemble cast and making sure that each character contributes to the final take down of the villain was a difficult feat. That success was a reward onto itself.

7) I'm a huge music lover so if you could choose one song or album that you feel represents The Shadow Revolution Series what would it be?

I kept hearing “Drink With Me” from Les Mis in my head whenever Simon and Nick went to the pubs. Then pretty much the entire “Once” album from Nightwish which may explain the frenzied pacing of the books.

8) If you two could spend the day with any author, living or dead; who would it be and what is the first question you would ask them?

Probably Patrick O’Brian. Clay met him once, but didn’t get to speak to him much. Would love to discuss his approach to characters and how to continue a series over a long time, while keeping things fresh.

9) I love when books are adapted to the big and small screen. If The Shadow Revolution Series was adapted into a movie or TV series (keeping fingers crossed!!) who would your dream cast be?
We actually never thought about that while writing, but just off the top of our head, here’s a few possibilities:

Simon Archer: Aidan Turner
Kate Anstruther: Hayley Atwell
Malcolm MacFarlane: Sam Heughan

10) What is the one thing about The Shadow Revolution Series that you'd like your readers to know that we may not know already?

It is a huge world with lots more stories left untold. So far.


  1. Hi! I just came over to tell you that I nominated you for the Liebster Award! You can check out the details in my post> http://thebookish-life.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-liebster-award.html#more