This is the first in an anticipated series about Lady Diana Furnaval, who comes to believe in the supernatural after her fiancé, William, reveals that he is guardian of an ancient gateway between our world and the Netherworld. When he is mysteriously killed, Diana takes over his work, eventually learning there are more gateways through which demons seek to invade. This takes her on a globe-trotting quest to close them and seek answers about William’s death.
I have to give this book a mixed review. I started out really enjoying it and found it to be a fun adventure that reminded me of The Mummy. However, after a while the demons Diana faced became more comical than threatening, and the plot started feeling repetitive. Toward the end, the book seemed to not know what it wanted to be, going from historical/gothic to gory horror to romance in space of a few pages. Diana’s actions on the last page seemed particularly forced, and the ending didn’t leave me wanting more.
However, Morton has a great ability to evoke a place and time – from soot-stained London and the opium dens of China to the wilds of California – and create interesting characters. Mina stole my heart, and Diana had me rooting for her. Even Yi-Kin, who is a little flat, managed to charm me, but the repeated bigotry against him got old quickly. It may have been the mindset of the Victorian period, but there was so much that it felt preachy rather than naturally occurring.
My copy wasn’t an ARC, but I counted eight typos, mostly toward the end of the book, which interrupted the reading experience. Netherworld isn’t a waste of time, but I’m on the fence as to whether to continue with the series.