Book Review (SERIES): These Marvelous Beasts

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These Marvelous Beasts: The Complete Frost & Filigree Series by Natania Barron

  1. Frost & Filigree
  2. Masks & Malevolence
  3. Time & Temper

This is the collected works of the Frost & Filigree series which I read and reviewed as the individual novellas came out. I love Natania Barron’s voice as a writer – so rich and detailed.

While These Marvelous Beasts is an adventure throughout the United States and Europe from the Victorian era through the Roaring Twenties, the story never strayed far from the central questions: What makes a monster? When does one become a monster, and when does one stop being a monster? Using mythology from around the world, Ms. Barron explores this question in this historical Urban Fantasy. If deeper questions aren’t your cup of tea in reading (and really, they aren’t mine – I read to escape), there are battles, and romance, and monsters, and gods, and family, and vampire galore.

The first book of the series is the “weakest” of the lot. Ms. Barron works better in a novel format, and she needed to figure the pacing difference of the shorter format.


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Vivienne du Lac and Nerissa Waldemar — a.k.a. la belle dame sans merci and the lamia — have been living among the elite of Tarrytown for quite some time, undetected but for the trail of goats in their wake (one must eat, after all). But just as their eccentricities begin to raise eyebrows, a dark evil arises, intent on murder. They meet a with a young woman named Christabel Crane and a group of bumbling cultists calling themselves the Circle of Iapetus, who beg for help combating the creature.

As they plunge deeper into the mysteries surrounding the New York elite, old flames rekindle, and old grudges, too. Vivienne and Nerissa agree to help fend off the darkness, but will spilled blood mean the end of their reform? And if not, at what cost?


Much more complicated set of characters than I normal find in the Shadow Council shared world – almost doesn’t fit in the novella (which is a complete story). A couple of the transitions between chapter/scenes have abrupt jumps; a problem with the extremely short format of novellas.

The language is beautiful. I bet this will be an amazing audiobook.

What makes a monster? When does one become a monster, and when does one stop being a monster? The monsters in this book are not that introspective, and they know what they are and what they have been capable of in the past. But in the here and now, they want to be part of society. For Vivienne du Lac, it is because she feeds on emotions of people. The higher and brighter the better, and this was a time of high society parties. For Nerissa, well, keeps her from backsliding.

She doesn’t want to be that monster in the swamp eating people; she wants to be better than that. But when a group of humans set off a bomb at a party to maximize blood (but not death), Nerissa and Vivienne need to face their baser selves, deal with the humans willing to risk the two monster setting off a blood bath, and fight the real monster in the area. All the while being distracted by the return of an old flame of Vivienne’s who she thought was dead. Is he the new monster – or is the new monster pretending to be him?

Action packed, but turn of the 18 to 19th century beauty. A good read in the style of an urban fantasy Victorian romance.


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Our monstrous heroes — Waldemar, Goodwin, & Crane — have suffered an unimaginable loss. Vivienne du Lac, the powerful sylph and their dear friend, has been captured, eluding all attempts at rescue for ten years.

The trio finds themselves in Cairo, Egypt, the crossroads of the old and new worlds, grasping at the limited clues they have to Vivienne’s whereabouts. As they pursue the trail, they come face to face with new monsters, new enemies, and a host of ancient gods wreaking havoc.

The hunt for Vivienne leads ever downward, to the very gates of the Underworld. Will Nerissa, Worth, and Christabel manage to stay alive, let alone keep their wits? After all, a lamia, a Questing Beast, and a unicorn, draw a certain amount of attention in a big city like Cairo… especially when one of them needs blood to survive.

With the help of new friends — including a kitsune named Kit and a Nith dwarf named Alma — the heroes launch an assault to the very gates of the Great Pyramid.


Natania Barron writes books as beautiful as her covers. This time we follow our beasts to Cairo, where the marsh-based snake, the lamia Nerissa, is less than happy about leaving the moist country-side of Tarrytown. She only left it to find her lifelong companion Vivienne, however strained their relationship might be and often was, on some level she needs the fey – who has been kidnapped by their former slave-butler Barquan, a dijinn. Joining her in the search are Worth (a, the?, Questing Beast) and Christabel (a unicorn), and a new person they pick up cheap in the bazaar (more about that little one will be spoilers except for the fact she adds much needed energy to the beastly dynamics).

Masks & Malevolence captures the time and sensibilities of the flapper era, and provides an even more complicated narrative than Frost & Filigree. The novella again packs so much into so little space yet completes the story it is telling.

Well worth the read!


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It’s been two decades since Vivienne du Lac, powerful night sylph and mysterious monster of fashion, was abducted from Tarrytown New York in a display of strange magic. Her friends Nerissa Waldemar, the lamia; Worth Goodwin, the Questing Beast; and Christabel Crane, a unicorn, have chased her shadow across two continents, down the winding streets of Cairo, and indeed, into the Underworld itself.

Just when they’re about to give up, a surprising letter indicates that Vivienne might still be alive, and closer than they think. Aided by a kitsune named Kit, a reluctant angel named Ophaniel, a dwarf named Alma, and a host of gods, goddess, monsters, and miscreants, Waldemar, Goodwin, and Crane dash through London and into Spain to try and unite with Vivienne once again. But an army of void creatures greets them, and alongside their deadly attack clues to the insidious villain who’s been lurking in the shadows for thousand of years.

Once again, it’s up to the team to sort through their own interpersonal challenges of love, jealousy, and inner desires, as they race against the clock — and time and existence itself — to rescue Vivienne, or else perish trying. Will Nerissa beat her addictions? Will Christabel get over her lost love and find her place in the world? Will Worth ever cease being a sartorial nightmare?

Tempers rise and adventure awaits in the final installment of the Frost and Filigree series.


With the third, and final, book of a series, one always waits with baited breath. Will the author do the voice justice? Will my investment as a reader be fulfilled? Can everything be drawn together in a satisfying manner?

Never question if Natania Barron can draw anything – whether cover art or a conclusion to a beloved series. The richness of her voice, the complicated characters, everything in Time and Temper is as gratifying as one might hope.

If you love a rich voice set in Victorian times through the Roaring twenties, with everything from angels to lamia, this is the series for you. Start at book one. I *think* Time and Temper works as a stand-alone, but you will be shorting yourself if you don’t read the whole series.