Book Review: Creatures of Will & Temper by Molly Tanzer

Evadne is not happy when she gets sent to London to chaperone her 17-year-old sister, Dorina, especially since she and Dorina don't get along. When Dorina starts spending a lot of time with the improper Lady Henry, she's even more unhappy. But then she joins the Westminster Fencing Academy where she feels a sense of belonging and meets George, a handsome fencing instructor who not only seems to understand her but also brings her into his inner circle of demon hunters, and her unhappiness turns to worry when she realizes Lady Henry herself might be involved with demons, and thus Dorina might be in danger.

Book Review: Creatures of Will & Temper by Molly Tanzer | reading, books, book review, fantasy, historical fantasy, paranormal/urban fantasy, lgbt, demons
Title: Creatures of Will & Temper
Pages: 368
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*

This book was not quite a retelling but was inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray. And while it wasn’t all that similar, it was still a good book in its own right.

I don’t actually know what it’s like to grow up with a sibling, so reading about siblings is always interesting to me. And this book had a type of sibling relationship I have not come across often in books, or at least not seen explored so deeply, even though I feel like it was a realistic one. Evadne and Dorina didn’t always get along, they often annoyed each other, sometimes they purposely pushed each others’ buttons or said/did hurtful things, they often didn’t feel like the other cared about them, but they did still love and cared about each other. They wanted to be closer as sisters, but they just had a really hard time trying to figure out how to do that. And that relationship seemed to be the focus of the book more than anything.

As for the characters themselves, I’ll be honest, neither Dorina nor Evadne was wholly likeable, but they weren’t wholly unlikeable either. They were realistic. I appreciated that. And by the end, as they both grew some, they grew on me as well.

The writing was also very good. It matched the tone and setting of the story and had this way of drawing me in.

The fencing aspect was another thing I enjoyed. I didn’t know anything about fencing, so that was fun to read about, and Evadne’s passion for something athletic helped me to relate to her.

My one main complaint is that took a long time for things to really start happening. I feel like the first half or so was just kind of, “Ok, here they are doing stuff in London. Here are Dorina and Evadne not getting along. Here is Dorina hanging out with Lady Henry. Here is Evadne fencing.” I wanted to get to the stuff about the demons sooner. Once it did get to the demons, things got faster-paced and more interesting.

I also want to note that I generally don’t categorize books as LGBT+ unless the protagonist is LGBT+, but I’m making an exception in this case. Dorina, who is a lesbian, is a POV character and has a big part (even though I’d say Evadne is the protag), Dorina’s relationship with Henry plays a big role in the story, and multiple other characters are LGBT+ as well.

So even though this book wasn’t very similar to the original Dorian Gray, the author did ask what it would be like if Dorian’s quest for aesthetic experiences didn’t actually lead to corruption and stated that her intent was to create a less dark variation on the story, and in that regard, I think she succeeded.


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  1. Lily B

    I guess realistic characters tend to be unlikable a lot of the time. I love the artwork on the cover it looks really promising. Sorry not much happens for the first part of the book

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, that’s the thing, real people have flaws, yet we seem to say a character is unlikeable just for having realistic flaws. But that’s why I appreciated the realism of the characters even though they could be frustrating. And it’s definitely a unique cover!

  2. verushka

    I only have a passing knowledge of Dorian Gray, but that makes me all the more curious about this. The cover first is soooo striking and the sister relationship as you’ve described it! — I like that they are realistic and not too likeable or unlikable for that matter. We’d all love our sibling relationships to be perfect, but that’s not realistic. Not to mention fencing leading to demon hunting? Yes please!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Like I said, this one really isn’t all that similar to Dorian Gray, but if you like realistic characters and imperfect sibling relationships and fencing leading to demon hunting, I think you’d like this one!

  3. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    You don’t have siblings? Let me tell you, as a younger sibling it can be annoying. I don’t know what it’s like to have a sister, but it sounds like it’s pretty damn accurately. You hate them but would totally fight to the death for them. I like the fact both characters aren’t totally likeable but they kind of grow on you when reading. I definitely think this is a cool sounding book.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Well I do have half-siblings, I just didn’t grow up with them cuz they’re a lot older and they lived with their mother. But yes, this did seem like a really realistic, not overly perfect portrayal! And I do appreciate characters who aren’t totally likeable.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I felt the same way. It *does* pick up eventually, but I also felt like it was slow for a while, and I just wanted to get to the demon stuff already since I too read it for the speculative aspects.