Mortal Arts by Anna Lee Huber

Today is a first here at Never Enough Books, in which I will be reviewing the sequel to a book I reviewed earlier this year. I am hoping it will be the first of many!

Mortal Arts by Anna Lee Huber is the second book in the Lady Darby mystery series. It takes place just two months after the first book and in it we find Lady Kiera Darby travelling to Edinburgh with her family so her pregnant sister can be closer to the medical care she needs. Along the way though, they make a much needed stop at Dalmay House and Kiera finds herself drawn once more in to a mystery.

One of Kiera’s friends from childhood, Michael Dalmay, is set to be married. The new found knowledge of Michael’s older brother’s – Lord William Dalmay –  mysterious arrival however has thrown everything in to chaos. For ten years William has been missing and presumed dead but in truth had been committed to an insane asylum by his father, the previous Lord Dalmay. Kiera is sympathetic to both men’s plight but with the news of a missing village girl and William’s mysterious ‘spells’, she cannot help but wonder if she knows the truth.

I really enjoyed this second book by Huber because while we visit characters we are familiar with, such as Lady Darby and Mr. Sebastian Gage, we are also introduced to new characters, such as the Dalmay brothers. The mystery part of the novel is not only a “Who did it?” but also a “Could he have done it?”. When the village girl goes missing, numerous clues point to the elder Dalmay brother, William. At first Kiera staunchly believes William to be innocent but circumstances cause her to wonder if perhaps she could be wrong. Another thing she must consider is that if William is indeed innocent, is someone framing him and for what purpose?

Woven within the mystery is also the continuing romance between Kiera and Sebastian Gage. Once more emotions run high and for every step forward they seem to take they also take two steps back. Once again these two do not get their happy ending and for that I am glad. All too often characters are just thrust together with little to no conflict. To see a real kind of relationship play out on the page is, at least to me, very refreshing.

The amount of detail given, not to just the characters, but to the surroundings really add to the story. Color plays a large part and it is easy to picture the vibrant colors of the fall foliage as well as the stormy gray waves of the nearby sea. Character interaction also plays a large part and has a very real feeling to it. The distinction between classes as well as genders is obvious by how individuals are treated and spoken to.

The overall tone of the book was rather melancholy, especially towards the end. It was a bittersweet kind of ending which had a very authentic vibe. Despite it all, not every story can have a happy ending.

I look forward to the next novel in the Lady Darby series with enthusiasm.

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