Read New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear Online


Abigail Irene Garrett drinks too much. She makes scandalous liaisons with inappropriate men, and if in her youth she was a famous beauty, now she is both formidable--and notorious. She is a forensic sorceress, and a dedicated officer of a Crown that does not deserve her loyalty. She has nothing, but obligations. Sebastien de Ulloa is the oldest creature she has ever known.Abigail Irene Garrett drinks too much. She makes scandalous liaisons with inappropriate men, and if in her youth she was a famous beauty, now she is both formidable--and notorious. She is a forensic sorceress, and a dedicated officer of a Crown that does not deserve her loyalty. She has nothing, but obligations. Sebastien de Ulloa is the oldest creature she has ever known. He was no longer young at the Christian millennium, and that was nine hundred years ago. He has forgotten his birth-name, his birth-place, and even the year in which he was born, if he ever knew it. But he still remembers the woman who made him immortal. He has everything, but a reason to live. In a world where the sun never set on the British Empire, where Holland finally ceded New Amsterdam to the English only during the Napoleonic wars, and where the expansion of the American colonies was halted by the war magic of the Iroquois, they are exiles in the new world--and its only hope for justice....

Title : New Amsterdam
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781596061064
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

New Amsterdam Reviews

  • Richard Derus
    2019-07-17 07:39

    This review has been revised and can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud! Note that the edition reviewed is out of print. The eBook for all platforms is $2.99.

  • thefourthvine
    2019-07-04 10:56

    I really wanted to like this. I *still* want to like it. In fact, I suspect it's actually a two-star book for me and I gave it an extra one because it's just depressing to give such an awesome concept two stars. But the fact is: I found reading this book either mildly entertaining or straight-up disengaging. Damn it.Part of the problem is that I didn't know what I was getting into. The summaries I'd read made it sound like a sort of steampunk-and-magic-and-vampires detection duo. And that is not the case. First, this is, for the most part, a book of short stories with the same protagonists (mostly) but no connection between them. (Except just as I'd adjusted my expectations to that, the stories did start being connected. Inconsistency kills this book in so very many places; that's one of them.) I didn't get the sense they were written with any planning, so there's some minor retconning and recharacterizing as the stories progress, and also some tonal shifting. It's nothing so major it'd be noticeable, unless you read one story right after the other. Which is what this book has you do. So, yeah, I noticed. It made the reading experience bumpy and uneven, and each story became slightly less tempting to read than the last had been.Also, I went in expecting a speculative fiction-mystery hybrid. It isn't. The mysteries, such as they are, are simply framework. They don't work as mysteries -- they don't follow the classic Detection Club rules at all -- and they aren't difficult to solve; they're pretty much at the level of Encyclopedia Brown. (Except the first one, which is a step above that: just interesting enough to mislead you about what's coming.) And, look, maybe it's just me, but when you give me a character billed as the Great Detective and another character who is a magical investigator, I expect actual detection to take place. It doesn't. Bear doesn't appear to be capable of delivering on the mystery half of the hybrid at all, and that's a serious flaw given that it is the entire plot of the stories.Also, I hated the last story in this book, which features both (view spoiler)[major character death and animal harm in BUCKETS (hide spoiler)]. Thanks to that story, the book ended on such an incredibly down note that I switched from "yeah, I'd try another in the series for the sake of the characters alone" to "um, probably not, unless I get assured things get MUCH better."It all comes down to: I loved the idea. I loved the concept. I wanted to love the books. But I didn't, and I couldn't, and I'm sad. I deeply, deeply wish to see this concept in the hands of a writer who can write it. Write this, someone else! Please! And write it better!

  • Lightreads
    2019-07-04 15:31

    Sebastien de Ulloa is a vampire with a millennium and change to his name, a habit of caring about his food, and the desire to build a new life across the Atlantic in the colonies. Detective Crown Inspector Lady Abigail Irene Garrett is a forensic sorceress who has exiled herself from London for reasons that do not need exploring at this juncture. Together, they solve crime.Oh, now, this? This I like.Clever, tense, satisfying mosaic novel. It feels like the best of Bear’s writing: prose like perfectly toned musculature, and lacking the sometimes annoying self-consciousness of Blood and Iron. The alternate history turn of the twentieth century, where the imperial powers still grip the colonies and magic is science, is evocative and rich. It got me from the start with “Lucifugous.” I mean, it’s basically Murder on the Orient Express in a zeppelin, with a vampire. How can you not love that? And the stories layer up one by one, adding revolutionary politics, ill-considered love affairs, and always murder.I could quibble that the mysteries are too obvious, but the mysteries really aren’t the point. It’s about the world, the interplay of people, the gentle tug of theme. My real complaint is the frankly shocking copyediting -- I spotted several dozen typos, and that was without looking. Not to mention other glaring errors, like a line of dialogue assigned to a character who wasn’t even there. Woops.Stil fantastic, though.

  • Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    2019-07-13 10:31

    Set between 1899 and 1903 in a world where the sun never set on the British Empire, where America is still deeply British on those small territories secured from the natives and with the French breathing down their neck across a tenuous border, New Amsterdam presents the great amateur detective, Don Sebastien de Ulloa. Travelling from Europe to the colonies across the Pacific by dirigible with his trusted young friend Jack, Sebastien is one of the oldest wampyrs living. While wampyrs are welcome in Europe, they are most definitely not in the colonies, so he and Jack work hard to keep it a secret on board the air ship. It’s not long, however, before Sebastien’s detective skills are required when a passenger disappears, and a sorcerer reveals his true nature.When he arrives in New Amsterdam – only recently handed over to the British by the Dutch – Sabestien teams up with Detective Crown Investigator Abigail Irene Garrett, a sorcerer who drinks a lot, is loyal to the Crown – or at least, the oath she took to serve it – and is having an affair with Duke Richard, the British Empire’s representative in New Amsterdam. The two find themselves neck-deep in grisly paranormal murders and international politics, along with Jack and a curious widow who writes fiction, Phoebe Smith.This is my first Bear outing, and I have to admit from the outset that it didn’t greatly impress me. I always start a book with a feeling of excitement, of possibilities, with my mind open to a fresh new story. It took a while for Bear’s actual story to get boring, but I think her writing style here made it rather plodding from the start. Normally, I like a high level of detail, but because I found her sentence structure often hard to follow, or clunky, the details just became burdens. Part of my problem is, I freely admit, that I don’t care for mystery/detective/crime type stories much. I have enjoyed some, extremely so. This wasn’t one of them, sadly. I couldn’t follow their leaps of reasoning – hell, sometimes I couldn’t even follow a simple statement! It only makes me frustrated. You know those conversations, those slices of dialogue, where a character says something that sounds random, but others in room go “Ahh” or jump from there to some new realisation – this book was full of those. (I can’t really give you examples, you’d have to read the whole thing.) Structurally, the book is comprised of chapters or parts that are something like connected short stories or novellas – each deals with a new and separate mystery to solve, but as a whole they are meant to tell a greater story than the sum of their parts. I say “meant to” because one of the biggest disappointments for me was how lacking the overall story was. Here we have two very interesting characters – an old, lonely wampyr who’s forgotten much of his past, and an intelligent, strong, independent sorceress who defeats beasts and the like, in an America where the indigenous tribes still hold much of their land, and where war with the French looms. The biggest let-downs were that there’s no great character development or change going on, and the setting – the very alternate history that so fascinates me – was only loosely sketched out, never really explored, and didn’t always make sense.On the positive side, I did like the two main characters and Jack, and I did like the sensuality that we get glimmers of – it was very nicely done, especially around Sebastien’s potent bite. I was thrown by the very last line – Garrett tells her black maid, who wants to stay in Paris, “On your head be it”, which, am I wrong? I always understood to be something of a threat, or warning. It means “Fine, do what you like, but I take no responsibility for the consequences so don’t come to me for help if it goes wrong.” Which doesn’t match the scene - she was giving her maid her blessing. I wonder if it has more to do with the overall editing – and copy-editing – because the book was rife with mistakes, not to mention my dissatisfaction with the clunky sentence structure. And when a book’s lacklustre qualities stand out this much for me, I lose interest in its other points – its themes, its attempts at being profound.For such a short book, it took me far too long to get through and hasn’t made me all that eager to read more of Elizabeth Bear – though I don’t want to dismiss her after just one book.

  • Rebecca
    2019-07-17 10:36

    He's a millennium-old vampire traveling to the New World to avoid vampire politics. She's a detective-mage with a sense of duty that could crack iron.Together... they fight crime! Seriously, New Amsterdam is set in sort of a steampunk/magic/alt-history where the Hadenosaunee(Iriquois) and other native tribes kept the British and French from doing much in the US interior, the Dutch didn't cede their New York territory to Britain until the Napoleonic era, and the US never won independence. Lady Abby Irene Garrett is one of the Crown's three go-to people for magical crimes in the colonies, after a self-imposed exile from England. I enjoy a good supernatural mystery, and this fulfills this in spades. The book is made up of a series of interconnected short-stories -- there is an overarching plot about the relationship between Abby Irene and the Crown, but each story also features a crime to be solved. The worldbuilding is also nice, and I'd love to see more than New Amsterdam, Boston and Paris in the stories. The romance, on the other hand, is pretty generic. I liked Sebastian (the vampire), but he doesn't really bring anything new to the idea of a vampire. At least we are saved from gratuitous additions, such as sparkles -- Sebastian just suffers horrible burns from sunlight. Bear does attempt to show what it is like to live a millennium, but all we get is an apolitical character who remarks a lot about vampires he's known who have suicided after the weight of years got to him. I guess I'm more of a fan of the charismatic monster for vampires, so perhaps it is not Sebastian's fault that I liked him as a character, but not as a vampire.

  • Alethea
    2019-07-11 07:56

    This is one of those rather peculiar books that I feel I ought to adore, and actually only mildly like--distressingly much of Elizabeth Bear is like that for me, where it just never quite makes the jump into deep passion. Abigail Irene is a fabulous character, and Sebastian and Jack are at least unconventional, and the world-building is comprehensive and well done, and I just never quite manage to break through into love for the book. I like it well enough to have read it, and re-read it in preparation for the sequel, and I just...don't quite love it.

  • Jason Lang
    2019-06-25 09:44

    A series of short stories about a steampunk-magic world Vampire who happens to be a private detective. Okay, so that sounds like an awful premise. But the book itself is quite entertaining, both for the random historical characters who sneak in, the well-thought out alternate history, the pains the vampire takes to hide his 'condition', the hints at background events (a war with France, Civil rights movements) and so on. It's surprisingly cerebrial, but in a candy-coated shell so you don't notice it until it's too late...

  • Bell Curran
    2019-07-04 12:45

    What a pity that this is out of print. It's a very erudite version of steampunk. On one level, it is a series of chapters* that span the time period from 1899 to 1903. Each of the chapters stand alone, and perhaps in a previous life, they were short stories. Each chapter is its own self-contained mystery which is solved by 1,100-year old vampire and detective, Sebastien de Ulloa, and 50-ish former bombshell, Lady Abigail Irene Garrett, who is not only notorious for her liaisons with powerful, married men but also a formidable forensic sorceress and Detective Crown Investigator. Sebastien is leaving Spain and his court for the New World, at that time the English colony of New Amsterdam, and travels only with his companion Jack, a 16-year old boy who was raised as Sebastien's ward after he was bought at a young age from some sort of slavery/indenture situation and then freed by Sebastien. Now Jack is a jealous lover who feeds Sebastien not only for the pleasure he gets from it but out of love for his vampire. The first mystery is solved by Sebastian and Jack: that of a murder on the dirigible taking them to New Amsterdam. In New Amsterdam, Sebastien encounters DCI Garrett, aka Lady Abby Irene, when they are working on a case together, and they collaborate on future cases after that.When these individual mysteries are strung together, they tell a broader story about the political intrigues between the murderous home rule-espousing local Lord Mayor of New Amsterdam; Duke Richard, who represents the English crown and won't leave his wife (to whom he owes his political power) even as he flaunts his affair with Lady Abby Irene in front of her; Prince Henry, heir to the throne of England; and the French Prime Minister, who is about to dive into a proxy war against England by supporting the home rule faction in the colonies.The broader scope of the book also tells a story about the evolving relationships between a vampire and the members of his "court" who all love him -- and, increasingly, each other -- and the difficulties that Sebastien has dealing with the fleeting lives of the humans he loves, and the fleeting love of another vampire he has given life to."Mortal lifetimes were a mercy to love, Sebastien thought. It could endure that long."As gorgeously written and erudite as it is, it's also compelling, often a page-turner, yet at other times you can enjoy reading slowly and savour the prose. Beautiful.Recommended for: people who like their mysteries well-written.Not recommended for: anyone who enjoyed Red-Headed Stepchild.*The chapters have poetic titles that stretched my English vocabulary skills, and I wish I'd looked up what the first and fourth meant before reading: 1. Lucifugous: light-avoiding, according to my dictionary, as in owls, bats, and -- you guessed it -- vampires (that part isn't in my dictionary)2. Wax 3. Wane (I didn't need to look up 2 or 3, thank god)4. Limerent: limerence is, according to Wikipedia (which we know is never wrong), a neologism coined in 1977 to denote the "involuntary state of mind which seems to result from a romantic attraction for another person combined with an overwhelming, obsessive need to have one's feelings reciprocated." It is thus perhaps connected to the urban dictionary definition for limerant (which is how I originally mis-typed it), defined as "A floaty, manic, excited, feeling that often arises after meeting or spending time with someone who you are recently attracted to."5. Chatoyent: an optical reflectance effect seen in certain gemstones e.g cat's eyes and star sapphires 6. Lumiere: French for light, here referring to Paris, the city of lights (where the court spends this chapter) as well as the new technology that character Dr Tesla uses to light the city with electricity.

  • Dena Landon
    2019-07-06 14:49

    New Amsterdam is a collection of short stories about Detective Crown Inspector Abigail Irene Garrett, a forensic sorceress, and Sebastien de Ulloa, a renowned amateur sleuth who also happens to be a vampire. The stories take place in an alternate history colonies, where tensions exist between the Empire, the French, and the Iroquois The first story in the collection owes much to the tradition of English country house mysteries, only the suspects are all trapped in a dirigble instead. The writing style felt a bit like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, only sexier, and I enjoyed Bear's homage. In the second story Sebastien meets Abby Irene, and most of the stories are told from her point of view. The stories shine when they focus on murders and intrigue, and the sorcerous and mundane ways in which Abby Irene and Sebastien solve their cases. A common thread running through the collection is whether or not New Amsterdam will side with the French or the British, and I found the last two stories - which dealt almost entirely with this choice - to be the weakest in the book. This is largely a personal bias, however, as I love murder mysteries and prefer them to political intrigue. Abigail Irene is a fun and interesting main character, a woman with a weakness for drink and men she shouldn't love. The developing relationship between her and Sebastien, and the insights they gain into each others' psyche as the stories unfold, was masterfully handled. Bear's sparse prose contained some real gems of description and dialogue, and fans of the Steampunk genre and murder mysteries would be well served to pick up this book.

  • Danii Goldstein
    2019-06-23 07:50

    This book is probably one of the first books in a long time to make me squeak out loud, cheer out loud, and genuinely cry for the characters. The book is made of short stories and novellas detailing the adventures of DCI Abigail Irene Garrett and Sebastien De Ulloa, a vampiric detective closer to Sherlock Holmes than Nick Knight. I honestly adored this book and as I'm typing here, I wish that I could give it a fair review or even discuss the book in any way, but I can't. While I can clinically discuss things I like, or things I enjoy, I find it hard to discuss things I absolutely, positively ADORE and such is the case with this book.All I can say is pick it up. If you like the Dresden Files but want a bit of steampunk and subtlety, pick it up. If you've seen enough young female protagonists and you'd like to read about a woman who's settled in her personality and her skills, pick it up. If you like to see relationships treated like relationships, regardless of gender, pick it up. If you like dry wit, arcane references a plenty, and all manner of archaic mysticism, pick it up. If you like alternative history, pick it up.Srsly. You won't regret it.

  • Laura
    2019-06-23 07:31

    This book was fantastic! Although I'm not sure why the inside jacket spends more time talking about Detective Crown Investigator Abigail Irene Garrett more than Sebastien de Ulloa, who really is the thread that ties all the stories in this book together.The premise of a forensic sorcerer meeting up with a wampyr detective is quite original. Especially when most of the stories take place in New Amsterdam at the turn of the 20th century. This New Amsterdam (aka NYC) is still a colony of Britain, and allusions are made to the Iroquois nation that still controls most of the central part of the "country".The stories are varied and interesting. The only issue I had with them are that the "solutions" to the mini mysteries are quite obtuse, making reference to sorcerous laws and lore, that I, as an outsider to the world, did not know.The first story is also a bit confusing with all the different characters, but I ironed it out in the end.I will definitely read more of Elizabeth Bear's work.

  • kari
    2019-06-29 12:46

    Alright, I know it's good. Before it falls into steampunk cliches, it really is good and fresh (and this might be a good moment to mention that I despise the soft, devoid of meaning and social context, overabundant in clockwork and corsets thing that has become of steampunk). I was offered two delightful, intriguing, and original characters, and stylish mysteries, all wrapped up in pretty prose. But I couldn't connect to the stories emotionally - maybe because of their length, they felt too short and oversimplified. The characters, with such potential for roundness, were flat. I could point the exact moments in this book that were supposed to deliver an emotional punch; I knew why they were there; they just didn't do their job, at all.

  • John
    2019-07-05 13:28

    Five (or so) novelettes--all alt-Victorian steampunk crime dramas, with intelligent characters who don't feel obligated to explain the significance of every insight and incident, and unusual in that most of the stories end with the perp's identification, not an artificial denouement or some violent resolution. A lot of vampiric style sensuousness and sex, but bearable nonetheless. I do wish Garrett had a stronger role to balance Sabastien's Presence--she ends up being more of a follower than an active agent. Still, good enough to continue reading the series.Takeaway line: "The collective resources of an authoress, a sorceress, and a wampyr and his valet are not to be underestimated."

  • Jana
    2019-07-05 09:37

    3.5 stars.Review posted here at Fantasy Literature:

  • Lilia Ford
    2019-07-16 15:36

    3.5I had to start this several times before I was able to get anywhere with it. There are oddities to Bear's style and syntax that make her a more challenging (tiring) read than I'm used to--or that I prefer. It verges on arch, which is not a compliment from me, though I wouldn't go so far as to call it self-indulgent. Mostly you read this for the original set-up, depth of world-building detail--which is frankly pretty extraordinary--and a bracingly fresh heroine. Abigail Irene Garret, unlike virtually every other heroine out there, is older than I am, unapologetic about sex, and complex and compelling in ways that constantly surprise--I'm grateful that a heroine like her is out there. I like mysteries, though I was not a fan of the anthology-like format. I did appreciate the alternating perspectives, but I would have liked more depth and interaction with the secondary characters. Bottom line: This is a highly accomplished book. The style is distinctive and feels inseparable from the author, but it's fair to say I admired it more than enjoyed it.

  • Phoenixfalls
    2019-06-25 07:41

    This is a collection of six mystery novellas and novelettes featuring Abigail Irene and Don Sebastien, and it is an excellent place to start with Elizabeth Bear. It is one of her most accessible works, so if you can find a copy of it (not necessarily easy, with small-press releases) and enjoy quality prose and characters, I strongly recommend checking it out.The novellas are sequential and build on one another, so the collection should be read in order. It starts as Don Sebastien leaves the Old World for the New on a zeppelin, having shed all his court but one Jack Priest, his ward. Vampirism is illegal in the British Empire, so Sebastien takes care that no one suspects his true nature, and when one of his fellow passengers goes missing he is forced to solve the mystery quickly, for fear that when the zeppelin arrives at New Amsterdam the captain will call in Detective Crown Investigator Abigail Irene, whose reputation is known across the Atlantic.Don Sebastien and Abigail Irene don't meet until the second novella, when Sebastien horns in on a particularly chilling murder in his new home of New Amsterdam. While her quick acceptance of a place in his court comes out of the blue, they have immediate chemistry as people with a stricter moral code than is usual for their positions and a particular enjoyment in circumventing (or ignoring outright) Victorian moral conventions. They also make an excellent detective duo; Sebastien does more of the traditional detecting (interviewing suspects, having contacts in all corners of society that can provide information) while Abigail Irene's credentials as a forensic sorceress make her a turn-of-the-century magical C.S.I.Each mystery they solve together deepens our understanding of the alternate world they live in; we are introduced to many sectors of a fairly complex society where magic and technology are intertwined and creatures of the night are just one of many oppressed classes. Impressively, every single mystery is fair -- while I only guessed one of the conclusions correctly, I was able to find the clues in each story after the reveal. Bear is never exactly an easy read, as she does not spoon-feed her world to the reader, but this collection is much less dependent on the reader catching every single reference than Blood and Iron was. I was left wanting much, much more set in this world; I'm grateful that it's followed by Seven for a Secret and The White City and hopefully many more.

  • Kara-karina
    2019-06-20 15:36

    Elizabeth Bear is a prodigious fantasy author, and while this is my first read by her, it's by no means the last. She is exquisite, meticulous with her world-building and full of convoluted ideas and characters which is exactly what I love in my authors.New Amsterdam is a great steampunk mystery blending the paranormal into murdery investigations of all sorts with a fantastic skill. Don't be fooled by the synopsis into thinking that there is this great romance between Sebastien and Abigail Irene. These two are both larger than life characters and their interactions tend to be about a careful balance between their personalities, secrets and intrigues.Sebastien flees Europe with his young assistant, Jack, (and yes, because he is a vampire, Jack is his occasional lover and food supply) and goes to America where vampires are still illegal. While in Europe he is a famous detective, in New Amsterdam he has to tread carefully offering his services to a local forensic sorceress, Abigail Irene Garrett, to help solve crimes.Abigail Irene is a much older woman than I would have expected (but I loved it about her) who has her own trail of secrets and powerful ex-lovers but her position in the colonies on the brink of war for independence as an Officer of the Crown is just as tricky as Sebastien who can be put to death if his secret is out.This book is a collection of short stories about their interactions, so you can expect plenty of action, and the characters relationship will develop in leaps with each story. They are also interspersed with an amazing crew of secondary characters - young Jack, a Hungarian with a talent for languages and dangerous intrigues; a scandalous American writer, widow Phoebe Smith; Duke Richard and Prince Henry... The action takes us from New Amsterdam to Boston and at last Paris.All in all, while the writing holds back and doesn't spill emotions all over the pages, the mere glimpses of them are powerful, and the whole package - the language, the world-building, the characters - make for a hell of a captivating story! Recommended.

  • Autumnmoon
    2019-07-07 13:30

    It's obvious that Elizabeth Bear owes a huge debt to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle--the moody quasi-Victorian setting, the traditional mystery plot structure, even her decision to write this book as linked novellas/short stories are all reminiscent of the Sherlock Holmes series. What separates New Amsterdam from its predecessors is its style. Bear effectively blends the traditional detective-driven mystery with elements of the police procedural, alternate history, fantasy, noir, steampunk, and the vampire novel. The strength of this book really is the world that Bear creates and you get the feeling that she's just scratching the surface of the creative possibilities here. As I was reading, I couldn't help but wish that she'd fleshed some of these stories out and created a full-fledged novel instead of these chronologically-linked short stories; too much seemed unresolved at the end of the final installment.In terms of the writing, Bear reminds me a bit of Diana Gabaldon in that her style sometimes comes across as a bit over-cooked, but this does work with the noir-ish mood that she's established. The writing and characterizations seemed more assured as the stories went on, though I also noticed that the second and third stories, both written from Abby Irene's point of view, were the weakest. Bizarrely, I also noticed an unusual number of typos and one small continuity error (someone's cup of coffee becomes a cup of tea, then a cup of coffee again), which I've never seen in a professionally published book before. A few of Bear's sentences were a bit tangled and I had to read them multiple times to figure out what she was saying. I wished her editor had been a bit more attentive. New Amsterdam was published by a small press, so maybe that has something to do with it? All in all, though, while these flaws annoyed this English teacher, they weren't enough to detract from the appeal of the story.

  • Melissa
    2019-06-30 11:35

    See my other reviews at Never Enough BooksAbigail Irene Garrett is a formidable and notorious woman. She drinks far too much and sleeps with married men. She has nothing but obligations. She is also a forensic sorceress, working for a Crown that has done little to win her loyalty.Sebastien de Ulloa is a vampire. Incredibly old, he has forgotten his birth place and even the year he was born. What he does remember is the woman who made him what he is.In a world where the sun never set on the British empire, and where the expansion of the American colonies was stopped by the war magic of the Iroquois; they are exiles in the new world and possibly its only hope for justice.My dear readers, in the almost three years I have been writing this blog this is the first time I could not finish a book. Not because I ran out of time but because I found the book just that bad.Told in a series of short stories, aside from the main characters there is little tying the novel together as a whole. Reading them, one almost has the feeling that the stories were written separately and only later were compiled together as a book. The tone is very inconsistent and quickly becomes irritating.What irked me the most though was how flat I found the characters. With almost no characterization given, there is nothing to draw us to either Garrett or Ulloa. I found them to unfortunately be very one dimensional and bland. While the summary made them sound very interesting, upon reading the book I found the opposite to be true.Looking at some of the other reviews on Goodreads, it would seem I am not alone with my dissatisfaction. New Amsterdam has a mixed bag of reviews.While the concept showed great promise, the execution unfortunately falls flat. Steer clear of this one, dear readers.

  • Kate O'Hanlon
    2019-07-12 07:44

    (view spoiler)[Finished and crying buckets. better review later (hide spoiler)]review update 21.09.11*Deep breath*This was a wonderful collection of paranormal murder mysteries. While Sebastien contains many the tropes of a traditional rules-vampire Bear breathes life in to his angst ridden un-death with small touches. For example, Sebastien knits. It's hard not to find this completely adorable. (Geek ladies are all about knitting apparently, at the last con I was at the front row of almost every panel was occupied by young and young-ish ladies knitting).I'm often put off by short stories simply because I want more time with the characters, but Bear really gives not just her main cast, but a host of secondaries a chance to shine. I missed Jack desperately from the handful of stories he was absent from, but when he returned there was a real sense that he had been out in the world of New Amsterdam and affecting and being effected by what's going on around him during his time off page, rather than just in a stasis room for sirs not appearing in this story.Abigail Irene herself was a great character. An older woman, principled and career driven with a string of romantic failures behind her, we don't see characters like her often enough, or at least we don't see them taken seriously as protagonists. The DCI holds everyone at arms length, including the reader. I don't think I really got a full sense of her relationship with Sebastien, but maybe that was the point.The through-line of the lead up to a much delayed Revolutionary War was fascinating, though I think my patch historical knowledge let me down at times. As with previous works of Bear's I've been inspired to go out and find out more about the real world history that's informing the alternate. And that is always a good thing.

  • Sigrid Ellis
    2019-06-21 14:34

    I try to write reviews that will be meaningful, and helpful to others, without giving too much away. Yet giving away the plot doesn't give away the skill with which that plot is carried out. It doesn't give away the author's voice, or mastery of language. To tell you what happens doesn't convey how the characters feel about what happened, nor does it explain how that reaction manifests.New Amsterdam is about a vampire and his court. It is about a DCI in a corrupt political system. It is a police procedural. It is a series of sexual encounters. New Amsterdam is about grown-ups, on their second or third or twentieth chance to make a life for themselves. New Amsterdam is about colonization. It's about science, faith, and magic. It's about a strong, flawed woman whose honor is the thing she most values. It's about a strong, flawed man who likes to pretend he's outside the system. And none of that touches on the bisexual rent boys, the Aztecs, werewolves, licensed investigatory magic, or the logistics of airship travel for the walking dead.The opening murder mystery recreates the best of Agatha Christie. One of the murder mysteries in the middle of the book reminded me strongly of John M. Ford's The Dragon Waiting, and a death in an inn. And the murder mystery at the end involves Nikola Tesla.If that sounds good to you, by all means go forth and read Elizabeth Bear's New Amsterdam.

  • Anna
    2019-07-08 13:51

    I read another review that said it was a great book, except the last two chapters are difficult to get into. I completely agree. The writing is concise and descriptive; I'm envious of her ability with words. But once I got to the last 50 odd pages, I just could't seem to keep myself reading. So, when faced with the dilemma of returning the book to the library or keeping it long enough to finish (despite the fees), I returned it. I did skim the pages, but I didn't quite finish it all.I give it 4 stars because of that, and because while I enjoy episodic sorts of tales, this book didn't seem evenly balanced. The plot sort of lurched around, starting out like a series of short mystery stories and ending (as far as I can tell, admittedly) as a completely different kind of format. I'd like to have read it as a more cohensive tale, one with more gaps filled in.The writing is fantastic. The characters are interesting (although Abigail Irene Garrett's issues with men was confusing at times), and well-rounded. I even enjoyed the vampire aspect of the book, which amazed me, since I'm so anti-Vampire right now (Thank you very much, Stephanie Meyer), I often reject books with fanged protagonists. I'm not usually a fan of alternative histories either, but this one worked well enough. All in all, a solid book. I'd read more of her work.

  • Stina
    2019-07-03 10:48

    I really wanted to like this book more than I did. Not that it was bad, really. I think I was disappointed that the author created a fascinating alternate reality and then teased me with mere glimpses into its world. Even the characters were constantly held at arm's length. And the plots were so dependent on arcane bits of fantasy intel that it was pretty much impossible to make actual sense of anything while it was happening. As a reader, I was just along for the ride and had to trust that it would all make sense in the exposition phase.I also had problems with the pacing until I realized that this was almost a collection of related short stories. There is an overall story arc of sorts, but it does seem to get lost in the details of the individual segments. I think I liked the last segment, "Lumière," the best of them all. The atmosphere, which I did like throughout the book, really gelled in Paris, and it was so much easier to visualize the action. I also felt like I was finally getting a good sense of the various characters.I am not sure this book qualifies as true steampunk, but I think steampunk fans who also like old-fashioned (non-sparkly) vampire tales might like visiting Bear's New Amsterdam.

  • chris tierney
    2019-06-22 09:46

    A series of connected short stories and novellas (novelettes? I didn't do a word count). Each is a mystery featuring one or both of forensic sorceress Abigail Irene Garrett and Sebastien de Ulloa, wampyr and amateur detective. Though each mystery is self-contained, the deepening connections among the characters give the collection the flow of a novel with an emotional climax in the last story.The elevator-pitch for this book ("magical Victorian CSI! with a vampire Sherlock Holmes! and dirigibles!") might make it sound light-hearted, or silly. It isn't, but it's not "gritty" either. It's subtle and suggestive and really well-written.The world is as interesting as the characters, and I enjoyed the way it was presented. There are very few info-dumps; the details of the world (and how its history differs from ours) come out naturally in the course of the stories.You can read the first story here and listen to the second here.

  • Julia
    2019-06-27 08:50

    This is a sort of mannerpunk or alternate history fantasy or some subset of fantasy I don't know the name of yet set in 1899-1903 with New York still under control of the British crown, it was Dutch until the Napoleonic Wars, with the Haudosonee in control of most of the interior of North America. (White people might think that, but do Plains Indians agree? That’s unfortunately not covered in this novel.) Four short stories set around Sebastien de Ulloa, a wampyr traveling to the New World with his mortal companion Jack via zeppelin. To stave off boredom, Sebastien is a sort of detective, and very good at it. Once he gets to New Amsterdam, he meets the professional detective forensic sorceress Lady Abigail Irene Garrett, Detective Crown Investigator, whose loyalty is to the Crown, until she realizes her honor requires that her loyalty is instead to the truth. The next book in the series is Seven for a Secret and came out this spring. Bummer that my library system doesn’t have it. This was fun!

  • Aileene
    2019-07-14 07:30

    This was a good book. It reminded me slightly of some of the Agatha Christie mysteries I've read in the had a very noir feel to it. I enjoyed the fact that each chapter was actually a short story & they were organized by order of events.Even though it had a short story/anthology feel, each story/chapter advanced the characters a little bit more.It was a fun read, entertaining and different from most of the stuff that I've come across lately. Even though one of the main characters is a vampire it was original in the fact that it was just one more aspect of the characters...characterization. It also created some of the conflict in a few plot lines, w/o the commonly written vampire angst/romance..etc.I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys urban paranormal/fantasy books & old school mysteries (think Agatha Christie & Sherlock Holmes).

  • Susan Chamberlain
    2019-07-20 14:47

    Sherlock Holmes goes to Transylvania. Really. Imagine a world where magic is practiced by government certified sorcerers and vampires are real but illegal. The New World colonies never broke away from the European Empires, westward expansion/manifest destiny were halted by the Iroquois nation, and broadcast electricity lights the streets of Paris. A thousand-year-old vampire with several notorious identities teams up with Lady Abigail Irene, who also happens to be a detective of sorcery and mistress of English nobles of various sorts, to solve a series of arcane mysteries and foment a revolution in New England. This was a good read, but did not capture my heart the way several of Elizabeth Bear's previous novels have. The erudition and inventiveness I have come to expect from this author are definitely present, though, and I see great potential for another series.

  • Savannah
    2019-06-29 11:33

    Like most of Bear's books, the setting could have occupied a huge sprawling epic novel, but instead she focused in on the small story of a few tightly-written characters within that broader frame. This is perhaps more work for the reader, but all the richer for that. The writing is slow and the pace pains-taking, so this isn't a quick read. Sometimes her detailing seems a little pro forma (for example, she refers often to the physical limitations of wearing a corset, but she doesn't dwell on how that makes the characters feel), but then, her characters wouldn't dwell on those things, either. Altogether a good portrayal of vampires and a different American Revolution, not to mention Dr. Tesla's death ray.

  • Margaret
    2019-07-10 07:57

    Sebastien de Ulloa is a wampyr, an ancient being who has come to the New World with his protégé, Jack Priest; Lady Abigail Irene Garrett is a Detective Crown Investigator and sorceress working for the British government in the city of New Amsterdam. In a series of intertwined novellas, they investigate various crimes, in an America which never gained its independence from Great Britain. I really liked this; the characterization is complex, the mysteries are intriguing, and the worldbuilding is excellent, with details slowly building up, forming a more and more complete picture of the alternate history.

  • Peter
    2019-07-03 08:58

    A collection of short stories, all closely tied together. So closely tied together, in fact, that I wish Bear had just decided to rewrite them as a novel. The shorter forms and tight story arcs seem to have "flattened" the characters, making their interior lives and decisions less clear (in one or two cases, nearly opaque). A novel-length treatment would have given Bear more time to flesh out the characters, especially the supporting cast. Still, a batch of appealing characters, a reasonably textured world, and an engaging alternate history make this collection a pleasant, if not completely satisfying, read.