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Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

Seven for a Secret - Elizabeth Bear Rating: 4.3* of fiveThe Book Description: The sequel to New Amsterdam!The wampyr has walked the dark streets of the world's great cities for a thousand years. In that time, he has worn out many names--and even more compatriots.Now, so that one of those companions may die where she once lived, he has come again to the City of London. In 1938, where the ghosts of centuries of war haunt rain-grey streets and the Prussian Chancellor's army of occupation rules with an iron hand.Here he will meet his own ghosts, the remembrances of loves mortal--and immortal. And here he will face the Chancellor's secret weapon: a human child. . My Review: Stories and novellas! Stories and novellas!! What is this Bear woman DOING to me?! WRITE A DAMN NOVEL ABOUT THE WAMPYR ALREADY!Ahem.I liked the story collection that introduced us to Don Sebastien de Ulloa. I thought it was an interesting alternative to our own history, and liked the characters quite a bit. Bear killed off one of my favorites, but heck, I still read Louise Penny books and she did worse than kill off one of my favorites.Forensic sorceress Lady Abigail Irene is back, but not for much longer. She's almost 90, and she's not immortal. Don Sebastien, now Dr. James Chaisty, is of course accustomed to his human favorites growing old and dying. He's not happy about it, but he's not unhappy either. He has perspective, that of millennia of life, and he has the mental and emotional flexibility to reinvent himself with new times and new people.Abby Irene isn't kidding herself, she knows what time it is; she's leaving soon, but she wants to finish a few things she felt she did badly. She reflects on her life in the context of solving the problem of what to do about the Prussians' nascent army of werewolves...which turns out to be a damned sight tougher than she or the wampyr thought it would be.We're introduced to a variety of characters, which in a 128-page novella isn't always good, since we spend little time with any of them. Still, Bear is a past mistress of the few-deft-strokes characterization technique, so one doesn't feel slighted so much as shorted...MORE PLEASE.One fact that has vanished from this book is annoying in its convenient absence: Don Sebastien was Europe's great detective in the collection and now he's living in a city occupied by an anal-retentive authoritarian bunch of Germans and he's not recognized.Uh huh.A sentence or two about keeping one's head down, assuming an identity already in place, something, would have fixed it. And how he's passing for human, if he is, is beyond me. Well, it is a novella not a novel (which it could easily have been), so one doesn't always get the fullest development of ideas.And it's Elizabeth Bear. That means it's good writing. It's set in London, so there's a good bit about rain and cold, which made me shiver. And Abby Irene has a conversation with her thousand-year-old lover about growing old and leaving memories, which made me mist over...until the wampyr says, “Twenty years or eighty, you're all ephemera to me.”Cold and rain have not one thing on the bleak solitariness of that statement for chill factor.It need not be read after New Amsterdam to be fully appreciated, but I do think it's worth a place in your TBRs. Short, strong, and good.