Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received an advance reading copy of this book for an honest review.
Orchidelirium by E.B. Roshan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Description: An heiress, a tiger, an artificial arm, and a hatbox of stolen orchids in an alternative Edwardian England: each one is a vine in the tangle of Opal Morris’s life. As she begins to discover how they all connect, she will find herself re-evaluating not only her botanical studies, but her whole life.
My thoughts: While I read my share of murder mysteries, I find murderless mysteries to be a refreshing change of pace, as this story was for me. I’m guessing the matter of prosthetics and the presence of an airship are what makes the setting an alternative Edwardian England, though to me, the read pretty much just felt like a standard historical cozy.
By that I mean a mysterious read with a clever and quirky kind of style. The illustrations are quirky as well and added an endearing quality to the characters and the overall flavor for me. But what I probably find the most remarkable is that I enjoyed the story so much even with its rather unlikable heroine.
Through much of the book, I was thinking that in large part, Opal’s got more tolerance and compassion for plants than for people, and it’s evident that she has some sort of psychological condition. Yet, it also seems evident that she and those who care about her don’t know or understand what that condition may be. It’s an unfortunate reality that many people with various conditions have and do go through life undiagnosed and misunderstood.
Seeing Opal’s shortcoming and struggle in the area of human relationships, and getting glimpses of how that struggle affects her heart, gave me a different appreciation for her character, even without my fully understanding her. (Because that’s how life is with real people sometimes.) Her struggle also made the ending in regard to her rather Sense-and-Sensibility-esque relationship with her sister such a picture of grace at work, along with the conclusion Opal eventually reaches about people. A conclusion helped along by the meaningful perspective of a certain foreign character.
Beyond the technical details of the mystery, the story of human connections between flawed people is what I loved most about this novella. A truly satisfying read for me.