Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Recent Reading: The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

I bet some of you were waiting for this, weren’t you?

OKAY! I admit that the plot twist took me COMPLETELY by surprise, even though in retrospect I should have seen it coming.

If you read the description of the book at Amazon, it won’t be a plot twist, because the back cover copy gives it away. Personally, I was happy to be surprised. I may never read back cover copy again ever, this seems to happen so often. Really, there should be a rule: put something in the description that, while evocative, does NOT give away anything.

Probably too hard to follow that rule. Anyway —

YES, fine, this particularly Regency-ish romance might as well have been written specifically with me in mind.

I have never before seen Regency romances that slid so decisively off the historical rails and went charging off into a different future. It never occurred to me that might be a thing. Kudos to Milan for doing something so creative as to establish a new alternate-history version of Gregor Mendel. Not someone whose work didn’t get noticed for fifty years, either. Someone right out there in public, making sure the work was noted and incidentally also discovering chromosomes, which to be sure does stretch credulity more than just a bit.

In our world, this was all stretched out. Darwin’s Origin was published in the mid-1800s, around the same time that chromosomes were first described as a component of cells. But Mendel’s work was not noticed until around the the turn of the century, with a much less famous guy named Theodor Boveri realizing that chromosomes might be involved in inheritance around the same time.

For Courtney Milan, that pace seems to have been too slow and boring. Poof, one person does it all, in the space of just a couple of years. I mean, not Darwin’s part. The rest of it, yes, all very compressed.

What an entertaining setup, and I am longing to know what impact Milan thinks this revised history might have had, but I doubt she will ever move forward sufficiently in the timeline for anyone to find out.

Great book, and now I am hesitating to read the next in the series because there is no way it will appeal to me as much as this one.

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1 Comment Recent Reading: The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

  1. SarahZ

    You’re right that nothing else gets as peak-Rachel as this one, but I really enjoyed the others in the series. The suffragette one’s protagonist is one of the first women to have graduated from the university, and editor of her own feminist newspaper, and the one after that features a black female computer/astronomer.

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