Read Camera Obscura by Lavie Tidhar Online


CAN’T FIND A RATIONAL EXPLANATION TO A MYSTERY? CALL IN THE QUIET COUNCIL.The mysterious and glamorous Lady De Winter is one of their most valuable agents. A despicable murder inside a locked and bolted room on the Rue Morgue in Paris is just the start. This whirlwind adventure will take Milady to the highest and lowest parts of that great city – and cause her to questionCAN’T FIND A RATIONAL EXPLANATION TO A MYSTERY? CALL IN THE QUIET COUNCIL.The mysterious and glamorous Lady De Winter is one of their most valuable agents. A despicable murder inside a locked and bolted room on the Rue Morgue in Paris is just the start. This whirlwind adventure will take Milady to the highest and lowest parts of that great city – and cause her to question the very nature of reality itself....

Title : Camera Obscura
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780857660954
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Camera Obscura Reviews

  • Dan Schwent
    2019-05-27 19:44

    A man is found dead in a locked room on the Rue Morgue, the mysterious object he was transporting cut from his abdomen. Milady de Winter investigates and uncovers a fiendish plot. Can de Winter figure out who killed the man and still retain her sanity?In this sequel to The Bookman, Lavie Tidhar crafts a steampunk noir tale with many wrinkles. As with the first book, Les Lizardes are in the background the entire time. De Winter follows a trail of clues and battles other agents of The Council as she tries to piece together what happened.Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this one. While I liked it, I don't think it was anywhere near as good as The Bookman.The stuff I liked: Milday De Winter was a much more compelling protagonist than Orphan from the first book and kicked multiple truckloads of ass. The ninjas from the Far East were cool and I liked the intrigue involving the Council. Viktor Frankenstein was an interesting supporting character. The villain of the book and what he does to de Winter about two thirds of the way through the book was really unexpected. As with the last book, it was fun trying to spot the Easter eggs in the text. The plot involving the lizards advanced a bit.The other bits: It just wasn't as good as The Bookman. There weren't as many Easter Eggs, the plot was a little out of control, and it just wasn't as engaging. I found myself a little too eager to do housework or watch Doctor Who instead of reading. Another thing, the cover gives away some things that only happen in the last 25% of the book, blowing a pretty big surprise.Closing remarks: While I didn't enjoy it as much as The Bookman, it was still a fun read at times. I'll definitely be buying more Lavie Tidhar books in the future.

  • Megan Baxter
    2019-06-04 18:52

    I feel like this series is developing nicely. The second book feels slightly more accomplished than the first. But two books in, isn't it about time to state clearly what's going on here? It's not a deal-breaker, because I enjoy very much this literary steampunky world, but I've stuck it out for two books. What are Les Lezards? (Yes, it's been broadly hinted at. But I'm ready for answers, not just hints. If something major had been revealed each book, but reserved part of the secrets, that would have been fine. It's substituting the hints for any real reveals that makes me a bit impatient.)Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  • Natalie
    2019-06-19 15:58

    Camera ObscuraLiked it. Didn't love it like The Bookman, but it was kinda fun anyway. (view spoiler)[A heroine with a Gatling gun integrated prosthetic is hard not to enjoy. But if you sprinkle with some kinky sex, add zombie pirates and a few dashes of literary references you've got the basic ingredients of a hell of a story. (hide spoiler)]The book starts in a Paris with a brothel dominated nightlife and includes a visit to an alternative future America (view spoiler)[ and cameo appearances by Henri De Toulouse Lautrec, the Marquis de Sade, Buffalo Bill, and Sherlock Holmes. A false climax recalls the story of serial murder told more thoroughly in The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America (Guess here's where I have to admit I liked the Chicago of Fair Weather a bit better than the Devil book?)(hide spoiler)]But, however you look at it, the Chicago world's fair venue charged with Tesla's gyrating energy and the exposition's position in history are ripe territory for re-imagining. I'm putting my copy up on swap if you want to explore this world for yourself! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Marcus
    2019-06-13 13:43

    Camera Obscura is set in the same world as The Bookman, Lavie’s first steampunk novel, the events of The Bookman are mentioned several times in passing and the main storyline takes place some three years later. Although I recommend reading The Bookman first (simply because it is one great Steampunk novel), it is not essential for understanding Camera Obscura. Lavie Tidhar’s latest novel is highly enjoyable on its own.In Camera Obscura, Lavie continues what he started in The Bookman. Fictional and historical characters from various times are blended into the story in a most delightful, and in some cases rather unexpected way. The main protagonist is Mylady De Winter. The only thing connecting her to Alexandre Dumas‘ character is the name.Camera Obscura (once again published by Angry Robot) starts in Asia, in best Wuxia fashion and quickly turns into a murder mystery set in Paris.The novel contains two converging and intertwined narratives. The main story line is centered around Mylady De Winter , the second follows an Asian boy named Kai who is in possession of a strange alien figurine.Lavie’s steampunk Paris is a fascinating, dark and dangerous place. Just like Great Britain in The Bookman, France has strange rulers, but I shall not put a spoiler here. The rulers, who came to power during an event called “Quiet Revolution” are a secretive council and employ a number of disreputable characters for special tasks. Mylady de Winter is one of these, others are the Marquis de Sade (a very steampunked version of him) and a certain Teutonic fringe-scientist whose first name is Viktor.The murder mystery soon develops into something far more sinister and it seems half the world is after something that was in the victim’s possession.Mylady de Winter willingly and unwillingly encounters representatives from numerous Chinese secret societies (all warriors in best Tiger & Dragon tradition), scheming courtiers, elements of France’s underworld and people from other parts of Europe. Through these meetings we learn a lot about the world Lavie Tidhar has invented, it becomes significantly more substantial.Eventually, Mylady de Winter finds her way to Vespuccia (North America). Here too, we meet an ensemble cast of historical and fictional characters. And it is in Vespuccia, in the presence of such notables like Sitting Bull, William F. Cody and Winnetou, that the story comes to a very dramatic end, leaving the reader speculating about what tale Lavie’s third steampunk novel will tell.The story itself is told in very much the same style The Bookman was. Most of the story is told from the perspective of Mylady De Winter with short episodes of Kai’s (life’s) story in between. Occasional flow-of-consciousness brings some flavor and insights into the minds of the main characters. The plot also never stops moving and there are some dark surprises and twists along the way. These concern the plot and the protagonists, although many of the characters will be familiar to the reader, their role might be not. At some not clearly definable point, a new element enters the tale and all of a sudden the reader gets the sense of a terrible urgency, a vast and heavy shadow looming over everything… But I shall say no more about this.All these elements make Camera Obscura an incredible hard book to put down. A colorful cast of characters, a gripping tale of loss, gain, secrets and cosmic dread, all woven into a hauntingly familiar and yet very strange steampunk version of earth.Camera Obscura is also much darker than The Bookman, the abysses of human and near-human existence are explored and are a major force driving the plot. Possession (of one kind or the other), artificial extension of life, and certain vile things only possible with advanced technology, all play a part.Camera Obscura shows the reader some inner and outer demons. It is quite a different reading experience than The Bookman. Since I am a big admierer of Lovecraft, I obviously think this is a positive development.A few weeks back I was wondering if Lavie would manage to dethrone himself and make Camera Obscura my new favourite Steampunk novel.He did.

  • Mfred
    2019-06-15 14:59

    Lavie Tidhar gives good setting. His descriptions of a Steampunk Victorian Age, ruled by Lizards, populated with historical and literary minor characters— Sherlock Holmes and his gang, a Lizard Queen Victoria, a nicely creepy Dr. Frankenstein — it’s all done very well. Totally enjoyable.But does he write good story? Kinda. In The Bookman, the poet Orphan finds himself at the center of a vast conspiracy and is dragged all around the globe, beat up, and almost killed, numerous times. In Camera Obscura, the main difference seems to be that it is a woman, Milady, who is beat up, conspired against, etc.Well ok, there is a second difference. Milady is also supposed to be a police woman, carrying a big gun and intimidating all of the criminals in Paris— unlike our somewhat nebbish everyman, Orphan. But Milady, she is a badass with a big gun from the page one. She’s not drawn into conspiracy, she’s a conspirator! Employed by the Quiet Council, the shady cabal of automatons ruling France, Milady just swaggers all over town, covering up crimes, collecting clues, fingering her gun in menacing ways… Once the story gets going, however, Milady starts to get beat up, a lot. And every time she is conspired against, beat on, horrifyingly tortured, etc., not only was I reminded a little too closely of Orphan’s woes, but I also started to doubt her verisimilitude as originally described. Her truthfulness as a person began to ring false the worse the story treated her. I’m all for the noir style beat down of the protagonist. Bring em low, I say! Bring em down to my filthy, violent level! …But by every villain that shows up? With every new twist of the plot? All the while also telling me just how tough and smart she is, always hinting at some dark past filled with clever and crafty misdeeds? In a fantasy England populated by walking and talking man-sized lizards, whales that roam the Thames, and a real, live Captain Nemo? It’s one unbelievable thing too many.I give the Bookman three stars for being inventive and fun. Camera Obscura, however, gets two. Don’t piss on my leg (or beat up your so-called tough female heroine until she is unrecognizable) and tell me it’s raining. And seriously? Don’t make me read the same book twice.

  • Tim Hicks
    2019-05-29 16:38

    OK, maybe I should have read The Bookman, and maybe I will. For the first third of the book, I thought I had a decent steampunk noir going. Not great, but worth reading. And I've read a LOT of steampunk. Then I started noticing the lack of a copy editor. And I started wondering why no one in late-1800s Paris thinks there's anything unusual about a 6-foot Dahomeyan woman with two guns. Then it occurred to me that a few real-life characters are interesting, but is she going to meet EVERY famous person who lived in that era? C'mon. Overkill. And then the author has the first of several insane players (view spoiler)[gleefully hacking our heroine's arm and leg off with a cleaver and poking out an eye. (hide spoiler)] And that's BEFORE we meet the Marquis de Sade, who is also insane. No thanks. I've read LOTS of steampunk and action and whatever, and I prefer my violence and gore a little less direct. This is just a graphic novel converted to text. This being steampunk, I never doubted that Milady would end up stronger as a result of the above. I was OK with that, but that's when the author lost me. She gets a Gatling gun for an arm. Then puts her jacket on over it effortlessly, and a few pages later falls asleep in the bath WITH her Gatling gun arm. Lookit, in 1877 a Gatling 10-barrel gun at 0.50-inch, 0.45-inch, and 0.42-inch caliber, with short barrel, weighed 135 pounds without ammunition. All Gatling models 1895–1903 could be mounted on an armored field carriage. And Milady has one as her forearm. Right. And what about ammo? For the 0.42-inch, a feed-case with 40 cartridges was just under 6 pounds. But an 1893 Gatling could fire 800-900 rounds a minute, so 40 cartridges would last no more than three seconds. She'd need to carry at least 40-80 pounds of ammo along with her 100-pound arm. OK, OK, these are more or less the same guns action heroes have used for years. Schwarzenegger holding a field piece one-handed while riding a motorcycle; Rambo ditto, with an inexhaustible ammo case. But pfui anyway. IF SHE GETS A GATLING GUN ARM, THERE'S NO REASON NOT TO MAKE HER ABLE TO FLY OR TELEPORT. And for all I know, the author did that before the end of the book, which I didn't reach. Feh.

  • Cathy
    2019-06-18 12:51

    Tidhar based this story more on movies than novels for his references, so I missed most of them, but the book was still enjoyable. Milady was a more compelling character than Orphan had been in the first book. And it was more fast-paced and had more action. Not that that means better, it was just a different style for a change. I read one review just now that said that he wrote the same story twice but it didn't seem like that to me. The first book was all about Orphan's personal journey, figuring out who he was and what he was willing to do, the whole hero's journey thing. Milady knows exactly who she is and she isn't planning on changing for anyone, no matter what they want, where they send her or what they do to her. That's the difference between a twenty-ish kid (I don't remember it saying how old he was, my impression was early twenties) and a forty-ish woman (again, it didn't say, just my impression). Anyway, I found the secondary story with Kai and the artifact intriguing and the resolution at the end was both satisfying and, as appears to be as usual for Tidhar now based on a whole two novels, left some pieces intriguingly open ended. The books was bigger than life and flashy just like the movies he based it on (see the intro to the omnibus edition if you can) but if you know that was his intention than you many take it in stride better. It's supposed to be fun, though it's also quite dark at times as well. How can you not enjoy a world populated by Dr. Frankenstein, Quasimodo, Houdini, Toulouse-Lautrec and many others?

  • Sheri
    2019-06-10 16:02

    Camera Obscura (Lavie Tidhar)Sci-fi/Fantasy. I won this on GR's give-a-ways. I usually do not read this genre, but this book sounded good. I was not sure if this was set in the future, past or present but it is clear that the book spans years. At times it was a bit confusing and there are many characters and bizarre creatures in this story. BUT it did hold my attention , and I found I could not put it down.Milady De Winter, an ex circus worker, now an agent in the quiet council is investigating the death of a man in a locked room. Milady travels many places, over the years to try to find the murderer. Complex story with lizard creatures, automatons (robots), circus folk, goblins, and phantom. She comes across so many obstacles and enemies along the way, not knowing who or what to trust. A unique adventure for sure.I feel the need to read the previous book, to help understand the story more clearly. Fast paced kept me on the edge of my seat. I feel sci-fi/fantasy fans will find enjoyment out of this read.

  • Nikki
    2019-05-27 16:57

    Camera Obscura is another fun action-filled story -- gore-filled, too. Milady De Winter is a more compelling character than Orphan: she seems less wishy-washy. Still, both of them are at the mercy of the plot: they're pawns, being moved by peripheral characters. Which... is a little too obvious to the reader, all along. So I can't say it impresses me or is likely to stick in my mind.But it's also not to be totally dismissed. It really is fun, and the world Lavie Tidhar has created is bizarre and colourful and fascinating.

  • Gary
    2019-06-06 13:43

    Excellent follow up to the Bookman! So steampunk you won't believe it - masses of fictional and historical figures included in the cast and a kick ass heroine and bad guy. If you liked the Bookman then you'll like this a lot. Tidhar has a lovely trun of phrase from time to time and he keeps the action coming thick and fast. Highly recommended, but read the Bookman first.

  • Liviu
    2019-06-08 17:55

    INTRODUCTION: Before reading The Bookman, I have heard of Lavie Tidhar in connection with his short fiction published in various places, so the fact that I enjoyed quite a lot his debut novel of last year was not surprising. When the second novel in his steampunk alt-history milieu was announced with totally different characters and set mostly in France this time, I was a bit apprehensive since I really liked Orphan and the cast of The Bookman."How will the books connect, will the series keep cohesiveness, will the milieu stand expansion?" - were several of the questions I was thinking about when I read the blurb below:"CAN'T FIND A RATIONAL EXPLANATION TO A MYSTERY? CALL IN THE QUIET COUNCIL. The mysterious and glamorous Lady De Winter is one of their most valuable agents. A despicable murder inside a locked and bolted room on the Rue Morgue in Paris is just the start. This whirlwind adventure will take Milady to the highest and lowest parts of that great city - and cause her to question the very nature of reality itself. "OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: I liked the author's debut The Bookman for its many references to popular 19th century culture, the imaginative steampunk setting and the main character Orphan, though I found it lacking balance on occasion. Camera Obscura which is set in the same milieu some 3 years later but features mostly completely different characters and takes place largely in France's sort-of republican society as opposed to the Imperial Britain of Les Lesards - sort-of since AI's as embodied in the Council lead there after the Quiet Revolution.The references naturally are Dumas first and foremost - Milady as agent of the Council, the Gascon - aka D'Artagnan as police officer of all things - the Monsignor aka the Cardinal as a Council AI - but also Poe's Rue Morgue locked room mystery and oddly enough, Winnetou makes an unexpected appearance later as agent of the Vespuccian state whose president is Sitting Bull.The Island of Dr. Moreau - though the doctor is in retirement for now - and the (in)famous Marquis de Sade - sort of but with all his parts intact as he points out to Milady - are among other attractions as is the Chicagoland fair in Vespuccia and much more.Camera Obscura is much tighter than The Bookman and has the essential structure of a steampunk thriller with its McGuffin - the object that will change the world as the heroes know it, etc, etc - and for which brutal murders are committed and agents from everyone who is anyone in the world compete.So we have the Chinese Imperial court represented by polite Colonel Xing and striking Madame Linlin, Les Lezards represented by Mycroft Holmes, rogue Council agents, Vespuccian agents, mystic Chinese triads, though of course our heroine, the Dahomey former circus girl that is now known as Milady de Winter - after her last sadly deceased husband - and who is a rough and tough agent of the Council is leading the charge to get to the magic piece of jade that is our McGuffin here and she is mostly irresistible.While starting as a murder investigation - of course a locked room mystery as the Rue Morgue hint makes it clear, and to top it all for those who read the original Poe, the ape possibility is mentioned too here - Camera Obscura picks up speed soon and becomes a really thrilling adventure in which you got to buckle up and enjoy the ride with the occasional over the top moments just adding to the fun. Sade at Charenton and Ampere's "toys" are among other highlights of the first half beside the ones mentioned earlier.The context above which fits very well the story the author tells and the characters he uses for it, took the novel one level above the usual fast and fun adventure and the flamboyant Milady made as great a lead as Orphan in The Bookman.Overall, Camera Obscura (A+/A++) was quite a positive surprise in some ways - I hoped for an entertaining volume on par with The Bookman or at least one that was not too repetitive or with too much "middle volume" syndrome - and instead I got a superb more-or-less standalone volume that expands the inventiveness of the debut while keeping the story better focused and having as great a character cast as there. Camera Obscura raised the Lesards series to a must for me since now with more backstory and higher stakes I am truly curious where Lavie Tidhar will take it next.

  • Karissa
    2019-06-18 13:55

    I got an e-galley of this book through I was drawn to the interesting description and the mysterious title of the book. This was an absolutely fantastic book, but definitely not something everyone will enjoy. Those who like quirky characters and worlds that are gritty and a bit ambiguous will find a lot here to love. Those who like their stories happy with well-defined storylines should probably look elsewhere. I didn't know it when I picked this up but this is the second book in this series: the first is The Bookman. This book seemed to provide a good stand alone story; but I am sure I missed some background by not reading the first novel in the series.The Lady DeWinter works for the Quiet Council as an investigator. Her current assignment is to find the whereabouts of a jade statue for them. But then people start turning up dead and DeWinter is being hunted by shadows. There are a lot of factions in town looking for this jade statue and none of them are afraid to kill for it. When the Phantom (a fellow agent gone serial killer) starts on the trail he may be the biggest and deadliest thing standing between DeWinter and her goal. This book is set in a Victorian like France, where a lizard-like people rule Great Britain, and automatons roam the streets. There are small sections of the book that are told from a boy named Kai's point of view; he is the one who originally has the jade statue.The book moves quickly and is incredibly engaging; it was very hard to put this book down and I found myself staying up way too late reading it. Tidhar does an excellent job with description; making the surroundings and characters easy to picture. The world built is incredibly interesting. You have Great Britain occupied by a race of lizard people and complex politics woven around all of that. The action scenes are plentiful and exceedingly well done.The characters are all quirky, unique and very interesting. That being said there isn't a lot of emotion in this book; DeWinter never really has a love interest and that is just not what this book is about. This book is more about the investigation going on and finding deeper hidden truths beneath all of the layers of deceit that DeWinter comes up against. It is also about creating a unique and intriguing world. People who are very into emotionally driven stories may not enjoy this book as much.The setting throughout the novel is very dark and gritty. DeWinters is constantly scrapping through the underworld and in a state of almost being completely run down. Again this dark style may be a turn off to some. The plot is very complex involving multiple factions and layers of intrigue and I really enjoyed it. The book ends well and wraps things up nicely.In general this is a strange book, but midway through it gets even stranger. This is the only part of the book that gave me pause. Midway through our heroine goes through massive destruction; I am not sure why this had to happen. I do believe DeWinter came out the other side of it all more interesting, but the emotional damage she would have gained from that trauma wasn't represented all that well (as I said not an emotional book). Things get even stranger toward the end and start involving alien space travel and gates to other realities. I really like weird books; but towards the end this book bending towards the too weird region of weird for me. It was getting to the point where the story was a bit contrived and outlandish...luckily it never got to that point for me but it was close. Some readers may not enjoy the absolutely strange twists and turns; but if nothing else the book will keep you guessing.Overall I really, really enjoyed this book. The completely unique world and the crazy twisting plot really pulled me in. The characters are interesting and unique (if never really emotionally involved) and the mystery and action absolutely spot on. The dark tone to the book and the strangeness of it all towards the end of the book may be a turn-off for some readers. If you like dark stories, with a little ambiguity, and a lot of strange this is definitely the book for you. It was very well done and very well thought out. I will definitely be picking up more books by Tidhar in the future.

  • Alan
    2019-05-31 17:05

    Lavie Tidhar had me hooked from the title of the Prologue to his novel Camera Obscura: "The Emerald Buddha Massacre." How could I not want to read further?And I was not disappointed. Tidhar's kitchen-sink approach to steampunk means he sometimes stomps gleefully over all credibility—in a world where Queen Victoria, the British Empire's current matriarch, is the green-skinned brood-mother to a dynasty of humanoid lizards, all bets are off—but his stuff's such great fun to read that I could forgive him the unlikeliest parallels, and the most ludicrous differences, between his world and ours.Lavie Tidhar also deserves credit for writing a sequel that stands so well on its own that I didn't even realize it was the second book in a trilogy for at least a hundred pages—and even then I didn't mind. The tantalizing hints Tidhar dropped about The Bookman only served to whet my appetite for that first volume, in fact, and after that there's The Great Game to look forward to."Come!" she said brightly. "Let us go and make study of the corpses."—p.282Not all of Camera Obscura is good clean fun, though. The novel takes a grim turn about midway through, with violence committed against a major character that I found very difficult to read despite thinking myself hardened to such things.Camera Obscura is not divided so simplistically into a fluffy start and stolid ending, though—reversals of fortune abound, and whimsy vies for attention with sheer terror all the way through.As she ran ghostly figures materialised at the end.Nuns.Nuns with guns.—p.234One thing about counterfactual tales like Tidhar's is that they foster an intensified awareness of the contingent nature of reality—of just how much hinges on coincidence. My running across Camera Obscura when I did was a matter of such luck, perhaps—but when I read more of Tidhar's work, it will be a matter of intent.

  • J.C. Hart
    2019-06-19 17:52

    It’s hard to give this book a clear genre. I think you’d have to call it steampunk, through there is so much else going on as well that it could be any number of other things: science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller.I was drawn in by the blurb, and the cover, which I just adore. The opening scene is really intriguing, and I was really interested to see where it would go. We’re presented with a problematic crime scene, and intensely interesting character (Milady), and some some kind of clockwork bug companion (Grimm), as well as information about the world – but not a lot. The first time the lizard queen was mentioned I raised an eyebrow and wondered if I had read incorrectly.But that is one of the good things about this novel – you are never given all the information. You are dragged along on this journey, learning things about the world, left in the dark about the details and history. And I liked that.After the beginning, I thought it was just a murder mystery, waiting to be resolved. Over time, you find that this is not the case, in fact the mystery is much bigger, much deeper than you imagined. Some amazing world building has been done here, it draws from so many cultures and backgrounds, and lumps it all into the same novel. I loved the worldly feel this achieved, as if anyone, from anywhere, might crop up in the novel – ranging from actual historical figures, to invented ones.The writing style was a little different, and took some adjusting to, but I enjoyed the story more as it went on – in fact, it’s not until a fair way into the book that I felt like I MUST read on. There are so many interesting characters, with interesting pasts, all converging eventually into the main story line. Until you get to that point, it seems a little disjointed at times, but in my opinion, worth pushing on until you get to the good parts.It’s a big story, breathtaking at times, truly an epic adventure, rich in details and keeping you on the edge of your seat once it gets going. I would give this book a 3.5 star rating, and I would definitely be interested in picking up another book from this author.

  • Scott Kinkade
    2019-06-01 11:42

    I have a few problems with an otherwise strong story. First--de Winter is not a very likable character. She callously bullies her way through murder investigations she may or may not even have jurisdiction over. She threatens people, she destroys evidence, and is so intent on getting answers she has the body of one of the murder victims mutilated and forces the dead woman's daughter to look at it to shock her into coughing up what she knows. She never shows any remorse for these actions. Therefore, when Milady is brutally tortured later in the story, I did not feel bad for her.Also, the exact nature of the Council she works for is never explained. They clearly wield power of some kind but Tidhar doesn't let us in on it. From start to finish they are mostly a group of amoral Illuminati types barking orders. The story is told from the point of view of their best agent, so I don't see why she couldn't take a paragraph to sum it up for us.Another problem, albeit one that is not directly tied in with the plot, is Tidhar's habit of having the next character speak while still on the same paragraph. Milady will finish speaking, and another person will immediately say something on the very same line. Since you can still tell when another character begins speaking, it's not confusing so much as jarring. Still, it comes off as unprofessional (at least, to me).If you can get past all that, you'll find an engaging narrative filled with colorful characters. Throughout her journey, Milady encounters, in one form or another, a spattering of historical and literary figures, such as Victor von Frankenstein, Nikola Tesla, the Marquis de Sade, Dr. Moreau and Buffalo Bill Cody. The locales in the story are even more compelling. From 19th century Paris, to an underwater city, to the Chicago World's Fair, I'd say these places are the real star of the book.

  • C.C. Thomas
    2019-06-15 14:55

    One of the many complaints about steampunk from those who dont' like the genre is that they are too dark and retro-futuristic, which is an attention-intensive and sometimes hard read. But that wasn't my complaint with this book. To be brief, it was creepy and I didn't like ti.MiLady de Winter is a private eye investigating for a mysterious organization. A series of murders leads her to the trail of an ancient object capable of giving the dead new life, or new animation rather. Great premise!But......I felt like I walked into this book in the middle of the story. While I knew this book was a sequel, it read like the second half of a story I knew nothing about. There was too much pre-history needed for a full comprehension and I felt off-kilter the whole ride, never catching up. The book very much reminded me of Kafka's The Metamorphosis, a story I have always hated. The resemblance is eerie. And, much like that classic, the reader's connection to de Winter changes and turns, eventually severing altogether. As a reader, I lost the story with the break and didn't particularly care what happened to the creature who used to be the main character or the original mystery that intrigued me in the first place.

  • Woodge
    2019-05-28 14:38

    Though set in the same alternate steampunk world as The Bookman, this story stands on its own for the most part. This story is set three years after the events portrayed in The Bookman and begins in France. Our protagonist is Milady de Winter, a headstrong operative of the Quiet Council. The Council is sort of an elite police unit though with an agenda of its own. Milady is tasked with investigating a strange murder scene which blossoms into something much bigger and more dangerous. Although my wife read The Bookman and liked it, she got about halfway through this one and said, "Oh gross!" and tossed it away in disgust. I thought that boded well for me. This story is indeed darker than The Bookman and I also enjoyed it more as well. Like in The Bookman, famous people from other works of literature pop up here too. I won't spoil it for you by telling you who, though. I am really enjoying this trilogy and looking forward to the final volume, The Great Game, due next year.

  • Rod Moser
    2019-06-24 14:57

    Lavie Tidhar shows real talent in describing the setting and establishing the gothic mood of Camera Obscura. Our protagonist, Milady de Winter, arrives on the scene of a recently deceased body found in an apartment and the reader begins his journey with de Winter through Paris, the Mekong River range, to Chicago and the World's Fair. In a mixture of 'Men in Black' meets 'V' meets 'James Bond' our Milady de Winter is taken from one strange encounter to another in a poorly developed storyline culminating in an anti-climactic finale. At times, I was swept up in the descriptive talent and found myself wanting to visit the underground of Paris and to walk the streets of the World Fair but I struggled with the substance. It felt like we hopped from one minor story to another without tying them together. The author has descriptive talent but the story just lacked congruency and substance. In the end, I would have to give it 2 stars out of 5.

  • Georgiann Hennelly
    2019-06-04 18:59

    I usually don,t read this genre. But i won this on Good Reads Giveaways.It starts out set in the past and goes into the future, At times it was a little confusing there are many bizarre creatures and characters. It did hold my interest and i found i really enjoyed the book and couldn,t put it down. Milady De Winter , is an ex circus worker, who is now an agent in the quiet council. She is investigating the death of a man in a locked room. Milady travels many places, over the years to try and find the murderer. Its a really complex story, with automations (robots) circus folks, lizard creatures, goblins and phantoms. Milady comes across many enemies and obstacles along the way. Not sure who she can trust.It,s a unique adventure. If i had read the previous book it may have helped me understand the story line better. Sci Fi / Fantasy fans will enjoy this book.

  • Foz Meadows
    2019-06-16 16:49

    I think I might be resigning this to the DNF pile. Maybe I'd feel more attachment to the setting and the characters if I'd already read the first book - I didn't realise it was a sequel when I bought it - and there are definitely some cool ideas in play, but ultimately the writing style doesn't work for me. Tidhar's prose is almost exclusively composed of short, sharp sentences, and while his intention is doubtless to create a sense of paciness and urgency, for those of us who automatically insert a mental pause after every full stop, it actually achieves the opposite effect: to slow down our reading speed and render the narrative stopstart. That doesn't make it badly written - it just means it's not to my taste.

  • Catherine Siemann
    2019-06-07 11:48

    I didn't love this as much as The Bookman -- while I was happy to see the world of the first novel open out to a broader world that included France, China, and "Vespuccia" (including a visit to the Chicago Exhibition), there wasn't quite as much delight in this one. Milady de Winter was a worthy heroine (even if her wardrobe was more suitable to cyberpunk than steampunk) and there was still a lot of play with characters and imagery, but if felt a little more obligatory this time around. Some intriguing new concepts and well worth the read.

  • Chris
    2019-06-02 15:38

    In The Bookman, Tidhar throws in everything, including the kitchen sink. In this one, he adds the plumbing, shame he forgot to connect it to a water source.Good ideas, but too much "ain't it cool" based on television and not actual source material for the characters (some of whom are not in character, and some of whom don't make sense in co-existing together).Worlds need some rules, besides the whole gravity thing.

  • Angelina Justice
    2019-06-18 15:48

    This story, like the heroine, hits the ground running and never really slows down until the end. For the well read and observant this book dangles and splashes names and locales from classic, mostly gothic, literature.It's not at all a statement of copying or coat-tailing, it's about ingenuity, which Tidhar possesses in spades.The characters are rich and engaging, even those who only make a short appearance. The adventure is horrifying, mystifying and begging for you, as the reader, to embrace it and race to the end with the Lady De Winter.

  • Marsha Nelson
    2019-06-16 11:53

    It is hard to write a review about this book as I'm not really sure if I understood what it was about. The action bounced from past to future, I think, and from weird characters and freaky characters to various intermingling plots. My favorite part - the Prologue. Since I am not familiar with this genre I will be go easy on the rating and leave it to you to decide for yourself.

  • Roger
    2019-06-16 13:42

    I read the first part of this trilogy (The Bookman) around a twelvemonth ago and loved it. So finding the second part, Camera Obscura, was a thrill. Reading it, however, was not. I once compared steampunk to an exercise in name dropping, and that is pretty much what I feel Lavie Tidhar's novel does. It does not matter how clever you are in working Victor Frankenstein or Quasimodo into your novel, I feel there has to be more to a book than that. Readers (experienced ones) know the middle part of a trilogy is usually its' weakest part. I think that must hold true here, or at least I hope so. I am still open to reading The Great Game when I find it but honestly my enthusiasm has dimmed somewhat. This book failed to hold my interest for long stretches and the climax left a lot to be desired.

  • Heather Rohrer
    2019-05-26 11:43

    Camera Obscura is well worth reading because of its intriguing cast of characters and its exciting plot. The strangeness of the world that Tidhar has created brings back pleasant memories of Simon R Green's nightside novels. Overall, Camera Obscura is a great adventure for the reader.

  • branewurms
    2019-06-15 19:48

    Pulpy, fun (albeit in a grimdark kind of way), and seriously, seriously bizarre. A little slow to get going, but once it did, it hurtled. It was a very "everything but the kitchen sink" kind of book, too. Steampunk! Serial killers! Zombies! Martial arts and wuxia tropes! Machines! Aliens! Alien machines! (LIZARD ALIENS WHO RULE ENGLAND.) Lovecraftian horrors! Automatons! A shadowy council of ancient automatons who rule from the shadows! Cyborgs! CYBORGS WITH GUNS FOR ARMS. Basically it's like the author tried to stuff in everything he ever thought was awesome. Sometimes this approach results in gratuitous awesome, and sometimes it just results in gratuitousness. I think in this case it's the former, but your mileage may vary and all that.That's not even getting into the gleeful profusion of twisted historical and vintage pop culture figures. HOLMES. MYCROFT. BUFFALO BILL. SITTING BULL IS PRESIDENT OF THE US. QUEEN VICTORIA IS AN ALIEN LIZARD THING WHOSE PEOPLE WERE ORIGINALLY FOUND ON "CALIBAN'S ISLAND" WHAT. I didn't even realize until near the end that the heroine is herself is a twisted version of a character - a villain, no less! - from The Three Musketeers. (Look, I never read it, okay, and I saw maybe one movie ages and ages ago.) In the beginning I couldn't decide whether this was distracting or if it added to the whole Awesome Factor(tm), but by the end I'd mostly decided on the latter. I mean, Sitting Bull is President of Vespuccia (or as we know it, the USA) and Queen Victoria is an alien lizard bent on world domination. This could only be awesome, right?Also - and this is the reason I read this before The Bookman - this book has finally answered my craving for a seriously butch, gritty, violent hardass of a heroine. Why is it that main characters are only allowed to be this butch and gritty if they're dudes? Oh, heroines might get to be kickass, but they're never actually butch. I mean, there's nothing wrong with ladies who aren't butch, but there should be some butch heroines out there, too! Because there are all sorts of women out there, and some of them are very butch! And because - and this is where I reveal my actually-quite-shallow motives - gritty gunslinger ladies are hella hot.On the one hand, I am almost disappointed that she wasn't lesbian/bi. On the other hand, I actually really like that someone is portraying a very butch woman who is, in fact, mainly into men. I also liked how she was clearly very sexual, but at the same time her motivations had nothing to do with sex. Usually the butch warrior lady character - (always a side character, of course, never the heroine) - is utterly sexless, and while there's certainly nothing wrong with being sexless, I think there's something of a nasty undercurrent with always divorcing a butch warrior woman from any sexuality. Male warriors are plenty sexual, after all. It's like people think it's unnatural for a woman to have a masculine manner and to be driven to fight, and therefore she is divorced from being a woman and thus can't possibly be sexual as a woman. None of that nonsense with de Winter - and at the same time, her goals were her own and had nothing to do with winning or sleeping with a man. (The heroines who have no life and goals outside of being with the men that they care for thing is yet another rant entirely.)Uh, I didn't actually mean to go off on a tangent about gender roles, there. Suffice it to say, Milady de Winter really rang my bell, both narratively and, uh, personally speaking. *_*

  • Brenda
    2019-06-12 11:39

    I keep trying to read steampunk, and I keep finding that it's really not for me. There's something about it that just doesn't click or connect with me, and I have a hard time following the story or even caring. Unfortunately, Camera Obscura didn't change my mind about steampunk.That being said, I found the story quite interesting. Usually steampunk confuses me because I can't picture what the author is talking about and it's all weird, but Lavie Tidhar is very descriptive in his writing, and that really helped. But only for the first half or so of the book. After that I started getting more and more confused about what was going on. Even with a bit less than 100 pages left, if you were to ask me what the book was about I'd be hard pressed to tell you.Milady was a great strong female character, but while the author was quite descriptive about some things, I felt he was very vague with others. We would get little hints about things here and there, but for the most part the reader is left to speculate about a lot with the characters in the book.I'm not sure if, when writing steampunk, worldbuilding would be easier or harder. There didn't seem to be any rules about the way the world worked here, and the author could do and include pretty much whatever he wanted. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, because then you get lots of cool and different things, but it can also make things harder to follow when the rules of the world aren't clear.I would compare my reading of this book to those times when you're half asleep and you can hear a conversation happening, but it's hard to follow, because you only get bits and pieces. There were times when the narrative even interrupted itself. For example:"They used to make garments there--one of the first places to use the Daguerre looms, machines that automated production . . . it had been a natural step for the factory to--The elevator doors opened. They all filed out. Another white clean corridor. They walked down it and came to a door. The door opened into an antechamber."This kind of thing was all throughout the book, which made for a writing style that felt like I was hearing a story from someone with attention problems. But for all that, there were some really neat concepts here, and I was drawn to keep reading because I wanted to find out what happened, so it definitely wasn't all bad. I think fans of steampunk may really enjoy this one.

  • Splash Of Our Worlds *Yiota*
    2019-06-17 14:06

    Two important things before i start the review. 1. I had no idea til now that the book was part of series. I suck i know, but don't tell this never happened to you. I don't really know if i missed something. 2.That's my 2nd steampunk book ever. The 1st was Incarceron and it went really bad, so i can't comment on steampunk-ie things since i don't have anything to compare.I have mixed feelings about this one. Hmmm...the book was big as you can see and a bit slow. So it felt even bigger! I actually got tired. There was a point at the book like it felt a 2nd part started so i got the chance and stopped it for 1-2 weeks before go on. I think it might could have worked better if it was 2 books and it would have like an amazing cliffhanger!As i said it was slow for me. And all those human- machines-aliens didn't really working good for me either. BUT i couldn't stop reading. The mystery (with murders!!!) surrounding the story was truly nice created. It remind me some adventures games (like Syberia) that i used to play. Where there were small hints around and you could try guess what goin on, put a piece and piece together and still you were missing stuff and you couldn't stop go on because you wanted to know more! I was actually thinking "i need to solve this one before Milady. it's a matter of honor!". So you see how i managed to finish it :) What i will truly remember of it though? There was a point something bad happened to Milady (it was at the same point i stopped the book). Like really bad. I am really astonished by the cinematography of the scene! The atmosphere was cold and creepy and i could actually hear myself screaming inside with whatever was happening. Not even movies have that affect to me. It was like the author knew exactly what words needed to make the scene alive.I was planning to say that i had big problem connecting with the character since i couldn't understand her well and i wanted to knew more of her. But know, we all learned that i haven't read the 1st book so maybe that's why that part didn't go well.There were no more negative things for me...well yeah..i wasn't really into the humans with machinery parts or the aliens and that kind of magic but aren't those part of the steampunk?Oh well..i did enjoy most of it even though was definetelly not my style.

  • Marsha
    2019-06-20 15:07

    This novel is a tightly woven net of noir, suspense, intrigue, politics, social commentary, science, et al., featuring the adept use of horror, science fiction and, of course, steampunk. The author has deftly added in references to a lot of other classical authors, including but not limited to J. R. R. Tolkien, R. L. Stevenson, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Bram Stoker, H. Rider Haggard, Edgar Allan Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The touches aren’t necessarily subtle but they are amusing to read and don’t get in the way of the main theme.This novel keeps the reader guessing, as to the identity of the main players, the game itself and the ultimate purpose of an inscrutable alien machine. Therein lies the problem. There is a cold impersonal quality that lies at the very heart of this novel. The Lady de Winter is a fascinating literary construct—lethal, complex, ruthless and single minded. But her habit of reacting to almost every tense situation by pulling a gun or radiating menace makes her annoying to other characters and to this reader. It doesn’t help when she becomes linked to a machine, is made practically part of it. An emphasis on impersonal mechanical constructs that don’t care about living things except as items to be studied and cataloged aren’t enough to move readers. That’s why stories that revolve around lifeless, unemotional things invariably fail. It’s like playing with toy robots; sooner or later you get bored with them.Ms. De Winter’s motivations are hard to fathom. She rescues a bunch of girls from being mutilated and butchered but you don’t get the sense that she actually cares for them as people. She is too happy acting like a weapon, so much so that she’s almost pleased when she becomes a gun. When she thinks about an Exposition that she once attended, all her fond memories of it circle around a show of the latest weapons, explosives, police techniques and a lecture on poisons. When she gets annoyed or infuriated, all she can think about is how much she longs to shoot someone.The attitude of a gunslinger coupled with the constant stream of mechanical chatter inside her head are jarring and ultimately wearying to read. You understand why Lady de Winter must be as hard and tough as she is to survive in the life she leads. You’re just happy to escape from it and glad, like she is, when the game is finished.