Creatures of Will and Temper
by Molly Tanzer
Review by Mel Jacob
Mariner Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781328710260
Date: 14 November 2017 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Creatures of Will and Temper, a takeoff on Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, combines sisterly conflict and love, romance, and demons to create an interesting Victorian fantasy.
Evadne, the elder sister, and Dorina, the younger one, are as different as chalk and cheese. Evadne wants to be respected and loved while Dorina wants to enjoy life to the fullest. Fate has endowed Evadne with strength and caution and Dorina with beauty and vitality.
The two go to London and stay with Uncle Basil Haywood, a renowned artist. There they meet Lady Henry, the sister of the deceased Oliver Wotton, once Basil's lover. Evadne distrusts Lady Henry and fears she will lead Dorina astray.
All her life Evadne has practiced fencing and become adept with the epee. A young man she had hoped to marry had urged her to contact George Cantrell in London for fencing lessons. Disappointed in Dorina and Lady Henry, Evadne seeks out Cantrell at a fencing academy. There she surprises him and others with her abilities.
Lady Henry is devoted to appreciating art in all its aspects. Initially enchanted by Dorina, she strives to keep her at arm's length. However, Dorina will have none of that.
Once demons enter the story, the lives of both sisters change. Dorina is overjoyed and savors her expanded view of the world. Evadne is horrified by the evil nature of the demon she meets.
Tanzer uses elements of Wilde's novel, yet creates an interesting story of differing lifestyles, sisterly love, art, gay love, the art of fencing, and sacrifice. The portrayal of Lady Henry is well done. However, the ending does not fit well with the rest of the novel.
Tanzer is the author of two other novels and the co-editor of several anthologies.