I’m excited to be taking part in the MTMC Bookstagram & Creative Tour for The Fire In The Glass by Jacquelyn Benson. In Edwardian London, a psychic and a reclusive aristocrat must work together to stop a series of uncanny murders. Immerse yourself in a gothic world of deadly intrigue, supernatural power and simmering romance. Book 4 in The London Charismatics, What the Ravens Sing, just released on April 1st so the series is now complete and totally bingeable.
Also I have to say this absolutely delievers on The Stalking Jack the Ripper meets The Infernal Devices vibes. It’s the perfect intersection of both (I kind of felt Strangford gave Jem feelings too 😩👌🏻) so if you have a hangover from them, you need this book!!
Picture this: a teen psychic ostracised by society (who also does things like wear pants and ride motorcycles in Edwardian London) is annoyed at the existence of a toffy aristocratic lord buuuut maybe he helps her after a motorcycle crash. And maybe he has a similar supernatural power to her (she sees the future in dreams, he the past with a single touch) And maybe together they are the only ones who can solve a series of terrifying murders. I immediately loved both Lily and Strangford. Lily has not had an easy time of it, with being the bastard of a wealthy earl, her mother having passed away, and her life being ruled by the uncontrollable visions of the future she has. She’s suffered a lot and is super independent and wary because of it, so even accepting help from Strangford when she’s literally bleeding all over a road is very very hard for her. (BLESS them.)
Edwardian. Gothic. Unexplainable powers. Secret societies. Monstrous mysteries. This has it ALL. It’s super well written and very captivating. Historical fantasy fans need this!
I’m also happy to have had a chance to interview the author, Jacquelyn Benson, below!! Read on for the Q&A. Huge thanks to MTMC Tours & Jacquelyn for the copy of The Fire In The Glass.
@cgdrews this one is so good, giving stalking jack the ripper meets the infernal devices vibes (!!) with reluctant allies romance 👌🏻thanks so much to @Jacquelyn Benson & @MTMC Tours for the copy | also ps visit my IG 📸 for my full review of The Fire In The Glass!! #thefireintheglass #mtmctours #reader #bookish #bookworms #bookrecs #yahistorical #yabooktok #ilovebooks #readertok #readerlife ♬ judge a book by its cover ib abbysbooks – Cait Jacobs (caitsbooks)
Hi Jacquelyn! I’m very excited to have the chance to chat with you about The Fire In The Glass! Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey, from first idea to finished novel on our shelves?
I have had the notion of a batch of mystery-solving Edwardian X-Men for over a decade now, but finally started to shape those nascent characters into a story back in 2015. After a challenging experience releasing my first novel with a traditional publisher, I decided to go indie—I have a background in marketing and having control over how my book was branded and promoted simply made sense. The Fire in the Glass debuted in April 2020. The story changed a very great deal between concept and final draft—there was a roguish magician in the earlier drafts I might resurrect at some point in the future.
Can you tell us some of the cool/strange things about the 1914s that you got to research?
Really, the era leading up to and including the Great War is such a fascinating period of history. It’s this perfect cusp between the Industrial Age and modernity, this time of incredibly rapid technological development and social change. Empires are on the verge of breaking down, along with class systems, Victorian gender roles, the balance of political power…
Of course, the most interesting and awful aspect of the period I delved into for The Fire in the Glass is the rise of the eugenics movement within England. We like to think the Nazis invented the idea, but the awful truth is that it was quite popular in both the UK and US before WWII.
What is the most exciting part of the writing process for you?
Plotting a new story is both exciting and the most dreadfully intimidating nightmare. On the other hand, I quite enjoy sketching scenes for an existing outline and popping into all those lovely corners of weird research, like the history of non-consensual human medical experimentation, the prelude to the Easter Uprising, WWI-era spycraft, and sewer systems.
Which was the easiest and which was the hardest books in The Charismatics series to write?
The books have become easier and more fun to write as I’ve gone on. I know the characters better, of course, and that makes everything roll right along as they’re not shy about telling me what they’d do next. And of course, I’m learning the whole process as I go—figuring out what works for me, how to untangle those plot troubles, leapfrog over moments of writers’ block. The process of writing What the Ravens Sing was so much easier than The Fire in the Glass, for all that it also meant putting myself through an emotional wringer.
Do you plot your novels or just write and see what happens? Did you know how the series would end before you started?
Oh, I am absolutely a plotter. It feels so much more efficient to me. Sometimes brainstorming a plot will involve doing these very quick, loose sketches of potential scenes to play out what they’d actually feel like, but I do most of my revision work at this early stage in the process. It’s easier to chop scenes that aren’t working when you haven’t yet taken the time to draft them—you’re less invested that way. And especially with a series that relies on twisty plotting, every piece has to ultimately fit together. Establishing that structure from a birds-eye perspective is so much easier than wading through it in the weeds.
As for where the series would end… I knew the general bones of when the final conflict would take place, and what it would involve. I did not know what that would mean for the characters, nor did I know exactly how I would resolve this rather terrible bind I wrote myself into with the vision of the future Lily has at the end of The Fire in the Glass. There is always a process of discovery for me as I’m developing each book—a significant distance from original concept to the final product.
And lastly! What have been some of your favourite author moments so far?
I will say that having these books turned into audio was an absolute dream. Sitting down to proof the files for the first three novels and hearing how Alex Picard brought my characters to life was… breath-taking.
When you’re writing a series like this, those characters have quite a bit of time to become utterly real in your head. Their emotional journey lives right under your skin, and yet you’re doing all of this more or less in isolation—just you and the words on the screen. Knowing that what happens to Lily, Strangford, Sam, Ash, Estelle, Cairncross, Gardner, and all the others actually hits home to my readers is probably the most completely satisfying thing about this whole business.
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Jacquelyn Benson writes smart historical fantasy where strong women confront the stranger things that occupy the borders of our world. She once lived in a museum, wrote a master’s thesis on the cultural anthropology of paranormal investigation, and received a gold medal for being clever. Her debut novel, The Smoke Hunter, was nominated for Best Historical Fiction by RT Times. When not writing, she enjoys the company of a tall, dark, and handsome English teacher and practices unintentional magic. If you’d like to be friends, you may find her everywhere @jbensonink or join the email list. Website | Twitter | Instagram
London, 1914. Lily’s visions could stop a killer… if she’ll trust a reclusive aristocrat with her darkest secret.
A monster stalks the gaslit streets of Edwardian London, draining the blood of the city’s mediums. Lily Albright knows who’s next.
Lily is plagued by visions of the future she can never change. When a mysterious fiend threatens someone she loves, she’s determined this time will be different.
But she can’t do it alone. To save a life, Lily must reveal her darkest secrets to someone she has little reason to trust—the reclusive Lord Strangford, a man haunted by his own unusual powers.
From the glittering galleries of Bond Street to the rookeries of Southwark, Lily and Strangford plunge into a dark conspiracy that lies at the heart of England’s rising eugenics movement. To thwart it, Lily must face a past rife with betrayal—and embrace the power she has spent her entire life trying to escape.