Book Review: Dawn’s Early Light by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

DEL coverI’ve been reading a lot lately, but nothing has grabbed my attention like Dawn’s Early Light. I’ve been looking forward to this book since it was announced a while back, and it certainly did not disappoint.

Dawn’s Early Light is the third in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series. I have reviewed the other two books on this site (Phoenix Rising was the first and The Janus Affair was the second). The books follow the adventures of field agent Eliza Braun and archivist Wellington Books as they attempt to save the world from a variety of unusual threats. Fans of well-written steampunk will thoroughly enjoy the series. If you haven’t read the first two books, though, be warned — this review will contain some spoilers. You COULD read this one without the first two, but you will be missing a LOT of backstory, so I really don’t recommend it.

Dawn’s Early Light starts off with our intrepid duo headed to North America, partially to help the American counterpart to the Ministry and partially to avoid the fallout of their last adventure (The Janus Affair). A not-so-simple airship ride later and they are in the States, meeting their American counterparts.

And they certainly are counterparts. Felicity Lovelace, librarian, and “Wild Bill” Wheatley are gender-swapped Books and Braun, which actually makes for some interesting situations later on in the book. Remembering the kiss in book 2, the reader instantly wonders what will happen to that relationship as Books and Braun spend so much time with counterparts that are so much more … compatible with themselves. The interplay between characters (especially Braun and Lovelace) is entertaining without being overbearing and adds to the plot.

Without spoiling too much of the book, you should prepare yourself for an entirely different perspective on Thomas Edison, an all-too-brief encounter with Henry Ford, and Nikola Tesla working with the Ministry. Books and Braun’s adventure sends them coast to coast, from the sands of North Carolina to the thriving town of San Francisco, with stops in Detroit and Arizona along the way. The breakneck pace of these travels will keep you up late reading “just one more page.” I had decided at the beginning that I would read one chapter per night — that didn’t last long at all, and I finished the book just a few days after I started.

From the very beginning, I have seen the influence of The Avengers in Books and Braun. Not the MArvel super hero Avengers; no Captain America or Iron Man here. No, I’m talking about the real Avengers — John Steed and Emma Peel. Books and Braun work well together, compliment each other perfectly, and help each other grow as people — everything you could ever want from a partner. The one thing I feared from the second book was what I call the Moonlighting Effect. When you have a male/female leading pair that starts off the series with some serious romantic tension, there is often a sort of disappointment when the two finally declare their love for each other. It seems like this is the reason for the introduction of the American counterparts — to test and see how serious Books and Braun are about each other and to provide some tension. I look forward to seeing how the blooming relationship between Eliza and Wellington is treated in future books.

I absolutely love subplots in fiction, especially when those subplots are carried throughout a series, in the background at first but increasingly brought to the front. There is a definite subplot in this series, a “something is rotten in the state of England” type of subplot that has been around since book 1 but that is really brought to the front in this volume. I am curious about one point in this subplot though — Dr. Sound agrees to act as though a certain individual has been killed, and not even let that person’s mother know the truth. Yet at the end of the book he tells her the truth. I’m really curious about that — I’m going to have to reread the ending to make sure I didn’t misunderstand something that I read. That point confused me a bit, but the subplot that it touches sounds fascinating, and I look forward to more.

As with the first two books, Dawn’s Early Light is highly recommended. Read the other two first, so that you get the backstory and side references that you will encounter. If you’ve never read steampunk before, this is a good introduction. The book is out on March 25, just five days from now. But why wait? Click the cover above and place your preorder. You’ll be glad you did.

OR — you can win yourself not ONLY a copy of this book, but the other two as well. That’s right — there’s a giveaway involved here, and you can win some good stuff.

Three paperback set (signed) of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences
Signed Abney Park Poster
Signed Abney Park CD Ancient World
Signed coverflats of Phoenix Rising and the Janus Affair

Three paperback set (signed) of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences
The Extraordinary Contraptions CD
Signed cover flat of Phoenix Rising

Three paperback set (signed) of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences

And here’s how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is part of the Dawn’s Early Light blog tour, which runs through the 21st. If you want more information about the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, check out the Facebook page at


3 responses to “Book Review: Dawn’s Early Light by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

  1. Glad to see some respect for the real Avengers.

    I’m a bit concerned about the portrayal of Edison and Tesla, though. The blurb at Amazon says, “Between the fantastic electric machines of Edison, the eccentricities of MoPO consultant Nikola Tesla . . . ” Shouldn’t that be “The fantastic electrical machines of Tesla”? He invented the light bulb and ripped off other people, including Tesla. He also electrocuted animals to try and discredit Tesla. In short – he was an unscrupulous money grubbing businessman. He should have been the villain.

    • Don’t worry, Gary — the portrayal of Edison especially is, I think, spot on. For me to say more would involve some spoilers, but I think you will be pleased with how Edison is handled in the book.

  2. Pingback: The Break of Dawn’s Early Light

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