It’s not a good month without an indie novel or two. Today I’ll be reviewing The Courtesan’s Avenger by Kate M Colby. If you remember, Colby published her first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter a year ago, so she wasted no time in bringing us the second book in her Desertera series. Check out the review below and make sure to give your two cents in the comments section if you’ve already read the book, too!
Rating: 4 stars
As Dellwyn Rutt watches her friend, Aya, move up in society and start living a better life, she sets her sights on being the next madam of The Rudder, the equally popular and detested brothel. While she tries to cozy up to Madam Huxley to prove her aptitude, she realizes that the madam is more obsessed with recent rise in sales and will do whatever it takes to take advantage of them. Dellwyn’s dreams of bettering her life are also put on hold when someone close to her is murdered, and she becomes a top suspect. Desertera must trust yet another lady of the night to uncover the truth and see that justice is served.
What I enjoyed:
There are multiple things to enjoy about this novel. The first is simply reuniting with the characters that we met in The Cogsmith’s Daughter. We get to spend time with Aya and Lionel/Will without upstaging Dellwyn. We also get to meet a lot more of Aya’s previous coworkers from The Rudder, and Colby does a wonderful job juggling all these characters to give them their moments of character growth.
Another thing to enjoy is the running humor throughout the novel. The characters really get to have their one-line zingers which added to their personalities. You can tell the author enjoyed developing these characters for us.
Overall, I’m really impressed with Colby’s decision to steer this series from the perspective of courtesans. It’s unlike any take I’ve seen on the strumpet character. Whether or not you enjoy reading about sex, Colby shows how complex characters get this type of job and how they navigate through society—lusted after by some, and hated by the rest. It drives Dellwyn’s search for her definition of true love—being with someone who views her as a person, not as their property or secret mistress. It shows how she’s dealt with past sorrows and bravely pushes forward to still live a meaningful life.
What I didn’t enjoy:
Dellwyn solving the murder is a pivotal part of the novel, however the deferring of this responsibility was a bit unclear to me. As in, she goes from being a suspect (without much defense or witnesses to truly clear her of suspicion) to being the one responsible for pinning down the true murderer. I guess I’m surprised at how the same characters were willing to see her as potentially guilty but also the only one who could figure this out. I think this was the only hang-up for me and I wished the transition was a bit clearer and believable.
My Final Thoughts
After you read this novel, you will no doubt be anxious to read her next novel. At least, the ending suggests that we’ll finally learn more about the significance of a certain cog that Aya has been looking for and studying. It’s hinted at in both novels, and maybe finally we’ll see Aya and Dellwyn figure out why the cog is so valuable and worth killing for.
Just like The Cogsmith’s Daughter, its sequel also includes frank descriptions and allusions to sex and intimacy. This novel is slightly more graphic and might be a trigger for those sensitive. Such scenes are used to further the plot, rather than serve as eye candy, so I feel that this was also tastefully done. Overall, this novel reminds us that while people pay sex workers for their services, they aren’t respected as fellow human beings.
If you’d like to learn more about Kate M Colby and her work, you can catch up with her via social media:
Have you read this novel? Do you have your own thoughts about it? Share with me in the comments!