Bronze Gods by A.A. Aguirre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A few years ago I was obsessed with detective stories devoted in solving impossible murders and mysteries. Agatha Christie opened these flood doors when I was a child, hand in hand with Sir Conan Doyle; later on, Henning Mankell and Kathy Reichs filled my bookshelves. Recently, I've put aside my mysteries and detective stories and have focused my reading almost entirely on some nice paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi worlds. Thus, it is with great pleasure that I have found the perfect combination of my reading obsessions in the 384 pages that comprises Bonze Gods, the first book of the Apparatus Infernum series by Ann and Andres Aguirre.
Bronze Gods is a steampunk-noir-murder-mystery, that portrays some serious detective work at its purest level. It took me completely unaware by slowly guiding me to a strange fantasy place that has the perfect dose of real and surreal elements. I didn’t know what to expect, however I was pleased by a very methodic and cleverly crafted book. The world-building is impressive, highly detailed and very much steampunk.
It has two main characters, Inspectors Celeste Ritsuko and Janus Mikani who are tasked with the investigation of the disappearance of a girl from an important family. This plot twists in macabre ways, getting dark and impossible along the way. I was hooked from the start and even today, after 10 days of finishing my reading, I’m still haunted by some things that happened in this story. As such, I really really recommend this for all the detective lovers out there who wish to venture in different genres, or those of you who love fantasy as much as I do. You will be pleased.
I enjoyed reading from Mikani and Ritsuko’s points of view. They both carry so very different baggage, yet their drive is so unique that at some point collides, making them both follow the same path. They become work partners at the Criminal Investigation Division of the city of Dorstaad. I loved them. Specially their stubbornness. Ritsuko is a very smart woman who is not afraid of breaking the rules of her culture and society. I was moved by her independence. And then... you’ve got Mikani, who is an excellent cook, understands his weaknesses and is loyal to the bone.
In overall, I’m so very glad Silver Mirrors the Apparatus Infernum second book comes out April 29th, since I am looking forward to read soon about Ritsuko and Mikani’s detective work.
For my Fictional Meals section, I want to highlight Mikani’s cooking prowess: he is known for making bread and a famous Ragout. Both food stuffs get mentioned various times in this book, making me wonder if in Silver Mirrors we may witness another delicacy made by him.
I’ve never made Ragout, but bread…. yes! I have mastered that skill. As such, here is the perfect opportunity to share my favourite no-fail recipe: vegan Irish Soda Bread from the Happy Hervibore website:
2 cups plant-based milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp raw sugar (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional)
Combine the apple cider vinegar with non-dairy milk and set aside for at least 5 minutes. Grab a really big mixing bowl (the biggest you have) and add the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and raisins. Whisk until it's evenly combined and well incorporated. Whisk the non-dairy milk mixture a few times until it's light yellow and curdled. Slowly pour non-dairy milk mixture into the flour, stirring as you go with a wooden spoon until it's wet and dough-like. You may not use all of the liquid. Knead the dough once or twice to shape it into a ball but be careful not to over knead or it will be tough. Place dough on a greased cookie sheet or a greased cast-iron skillet (how the Irish do it). Using a serrated knife to make an "X". Bake 30 to 45 minutes @ 425F, until it's golden and cooked thoroughly. Check by pushing a long, wooden skewer or thin chopstick into the centre. If it comes out clean, it's done. Also add an aluminum foil tent over top after 20-25 minutes if the top is burning or getting too dark.
ENJOY this steamy bun while your swoon about Mikani.
Ann Aguirre kindly sent me a copy of this book during a Blog Reviewer special giveaway she had on her page. No bread was exchanged during this process. Thank you Ann and Andres!
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