After freeing Queen Victoria from the evil plans of the wizard Fairgate and reuniting London once again, Seven, still contending with the ghost of a previous enemy, is called on to turn his unique brand of problem solving to the colony across the pond, Victorica. The former free states of America have a cancer growing within: slavery, perpetrated and protected by the Confederacy of the South. A wealthy group of Southern landowners and businessmen have seized power in Victorica, and rumors are flying about assembling an army and threatening war.
When Seven and his lover, Silas Kettlebent, are sent to investigate, they find the cancer runs deeper than anticipated and may be even more malignant than they’d first thought. With a ragtag team of slaves, criminals, politicians, and Abraham Lincoln, Sev and Silas must find a way to avert a civil war and, as far as Sev is concerned, free the colonies and citizens of Victorica as well.
But Sev’s indiscriminate use of magic he doesn’t quite understand has awakened another’s ire and stoked a thirst for revenge over the events in London.
Not the sequel this author had planned, but the sequel this universe needed…
So I never planned a sequel to The 7thof London. When I wrote it a few years ago, I had intended Sev’s liberation of Blackside as a one off, a self-contained story. Everything all neat and tidy. But then I got the first review. And it was a great review. The reviewer really understood what I was trying to do, liked the characters, and enjoyed the story. There was that one line though. A line that I’m not even sure the reviewer realized would have the impact it did. It was like a slap in the face. Not in a bad way. More a palm to the forehead. A how-the-heck-did-I-not-see-that moment.
“There was never an American Civil War,…”
Damn. And the reviewer was absolutely right. In my alternate history, in crafting the world so like our own but just that much off, I had overlooked the Civil War. Well it’s The 7thof LONDON, right? But there it was. No Civil War and all that that implied. Slavery. There was a HUGE injustice left in my universe that I’d never thought to address in the confines of the original story. It happens to authors. Things get lost. But to me, this seemed too big, inexcusable and so I decided to give Seven a sequel. Which meant I had to now address a bunch of plot lines and stories that I had never foreseen. What was up with everybody after they accomplished that monumental task? What was London like now? And what had become of Undertown?
Those were actually the easy ones. I made that stuff up. The big task, the thing I wasn’t looking forward to? Research. More research. I did a ton of research for the first book. I had to figure out that one little thing I needed to change in England’s history to send it down my path. I had to really get into the aristocracy and the nature of Dukes and Lords and all the stuff that fascinates me about England. It was fun. I loved it. But now, here I was faced with researching something I’d been forced to learn in grade school. Ugh. This, to me, seemed like a chore, but I did it. And I found out some weird and equally fascinating things about our own country and the people involved in that conflict. Here’s one that particularly surprised me: John Wilkes Booth. One of the most infamous personalities in our nation’s history. We all learned that he was an actor. That’s how he got access to Lincoln. But his brothers were actors as well. And even more well-known at the time than he was. He and his brothers put on a special production of Julius Caesar, the only time he and his brothers performed together on stage, and the proceeds from that performance went to commission a statue of William Shakespeare for Central Park. It’s still there. I found that crazy. The official write-ups about the statue mention his brother, Edwin, but conveniently overlook the involvement of the more nefarious sibling. Probably a good thing.
There’s more. A lot. But you’ll have to read the book and see what you think. And then maybe do some research of your own. It was a complex time in our history. Luckily we came out on the right side of it and with any luck Sev and his friends will manage to help their timeline down a similar path. Also luckily, in this version of history the presidency was eliminated in our country, so Abraham Lincoln hasn’t become president, which means he’s survived to appear in this book. I think people who are fans of the first book will be very pleased to see how his story plays out. And speaking of stories playing out, events in this book have more or less demanded that there be at least one more book in the series to wrap up Sev’s story. It will be the biggest challenge Seven has faced yet. But for now, enjoy and excerpt from The 7Thof Victorica, Gadgets and Shadows Book 2:
A refreshed Sev gazed out the window of the auto-hansom that had carried him and Silas, now disguised as Kettlebent, to Stafford House and William Wrathsbury, Duke of Sutherland and Prime Minister of the Great British Empire.
Sev studied the streets and buildings on this side of the recently opened wall. This was still Fairside where the upper crust of London society made their homes, but they weren’t the only citizens on the streets. Sev was happy to see street vendors and shoeshine stands set up here and there. What warmed his heart the most were the gangs of street kids, proper street kids, not just starving, frightened urchins trying to avoid the factory press-gangers, but small groups of cutpurses, pickpockets and pint-sized thugs. A smile tugged at the corners of Sev’s mouth. He wished a little that he could be out there with them. They ran free. Their childhoods still weren’t idyllic or proper, but at least they were no longer slaves to the factories. No one should have to experience that.
As much as he longed to join the young Blacksiders, he longed a lot more to get back out on these magnificent rooftops. That was another side effect of the reunification; Sev no longer had to hide. In fact his position within Midnight’s organization meant he was welcomed nearly everywhere in Blackside, and even on this side of the wall, he met little resistance, maybe an odd glance here and there but nothing more. Midnight’s reach was long. He made a mental note to put aside some time to dash across the rooftops tonight.
“Here.” Silas thrust a small hinged wooden box into Sev’s hands.
“What’s this, then?” he asked, slightly startled. He flipped open the lid and revealed a familiar, and slightly the worse for wear, false mustache. “Bloody hell.”
“Put it on,” Silas instructed. “We must ensure Wrathsbury’s deniability. He can’t have the notorious Seventh of London traipsing up his front steps.”
“I hate this awful thing,” Sev lamented. “It feels like a dead rat on my lip. And I’m hardly notorious.”
“Just put it on,” Silas said with a note of finality that coaxed a sigh from Sev’s throat as he stuck the manky fake mustache to his lip. Silas stifled a chuckle.
“Ye’re takin’ the piss, aren’t ye?”
“Maybe a little.” With Silas’s confession, the carriage lurched to a halt at the entrance of Stafford House. Silas strapped his voice modifier on beneath his false beard as he disembarked quickly before Sev could protest any further. Though Sev grumbled as he followed.
“Hello, boys!” A familiar voice greeted them as they ascended the steps. Jack Midnight strutted as cockily as only Midnight could down from the entrance of Stafford House. “Fancy meeting you here. All right, Benty?”
Silas’s walk turned decidedly into a stalk, and he marched past Midnight without a second glance. “Midnight,” he growled.
“Well, Benty’s his usual chipper self,” Midnight stated with a grin as he stopped in front of Sev.
“Mornin’, Jack,” Sev said. “Or should I call you Mr. Middlenight in this context?”
Midnight waved off Sev’s words. “Willy uses one name, but really what’s the difference? What brings you fellows to the eminent PM’s abode?” Midnight regarded Sev with eyes trimmed as always in smoky makeup.
Sev had gazed into those black pools on more than one occasion, trying unsuccessfully to intuit what made Midnight tick. Since Sev had no time for such pursuits at the moment, he simply said, “Wrathsbury summoned Silas and asked me t’join. I’ve no idea beyond that.”
“Hmm.” Midnight smoothed down the shiny, raven locks of hair that often obscured his left eye and scrutinized Sev for a moment. “No. I suppose you don’t. Tread carefully, friend Seven. You are once more on the cusp of change. And the last one you only survived with my help and by the skin of your teeth.”
Sev nodded. “Point taken. You know what Silas’s new role is.”
“I know a great deal more than that.” Midnight’s expression oozed feline superiority. “But I’m not telling,” he whispered into Sev’s ear.
“Seven,” Silas called.
“You’d better run along. Benty’s getting impatient.” Midnight straightened Sev’s tie and then smoothed his lapel. “I’m terribly glad you’ve started wearing proper clothes. You look quite smart.” Midnight stretched, fiddled with his own tie, and turned on his expertly cobbled heel. “Keep in touch, Sev. I shall see you soon enough.” Midnight marched down the steps to an awaiting carriage. “Oh, Seven,” he called over his shoulder. “I’m glad to see you’ve coaxed old Ratty out of his shell.”
Sev turned to respond, to ask how Midnight knew about Rat’s breakthrough, but he’d already disappeared into his cab, and the carriage chugged off down the road. Sev stood for a moment longer, watching the conveyance depart and wondering how Midnight stayed so informed before another shout from Silas drew his attention away. He jogged up the stairs, joining his love at the top.
The door swung inward just as Sev arrived. “Good day, sirs. His Grace is expecting you.”
About the Author
Beau Schemery and his robot sidekick quietly fight crime and mediocrity in northcentral Pennsylvania. Beau is attempting to complete six lifetimes in one: he’s been a comic writer/illustrator, an actor and a playwright, as well as an amateur cook and costume-maker. He enjoys sewing, reading, and playing the Xbox when he isn’t crafting exciting worlds for the characters in his brain. Beau is currently a vegetarian and hopes to grow up to be a time-traveling squirrel. He would dearly love to meet a dragon and is reasonably sure that Batman could pretty much beat anybody in a fight.
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