Book review: New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear

The year is 1899 and America is ruled by a distant king sitting on Britain’s Iron Thrown. In the colony of New Amsterdam, dissatisfied citizens spread whispers of war while Crown Investigator Abigail Irene Garrett uses sorcery to find a murderer. During her investigation into a brutal and possibly supernatural killing, Abby Irene meets amateur detective Sebastien de Ulloa. As chaos and war erupt around the pair, Abby Irene must chose a side—the crown, the rebels … or a vampire.

New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear is a refreshing addition to the world of vampire fiction because of its classical style. Bear does not try to engage readers with a new and edgy (and bloody) story, but rather catches readers’ attention with intricate politics, interesting characters and a language and technique that is reminiscent of an earlier time. Fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray will appreciate the atmosphere and subtlety of Bear’s world, and readers new to vampire fiction will be dropped gently into a sub-genre that can be pretty gruesome.