The main cast from the Boston Metaphysical Society series is back in a four-issue mini-series set in and around Tesla’s Experimental Station in Colorado Springs. This blend of murder mystery and supernatural is meant to serve as a new episode in the story for long-time fans and a jumping-on point for new readers to get introduced to writer Holly-Rosing’s historical fiction world, where an ex-Pinkerton detective, a spirit photographer, and a genius scientist team up to fight threats that defy logical understanding.
Boston Metaphysical Society: Mystery at Pike’s Peak begins shortly after Caitlin has freed the demons that House Lowell kidnapped her to control, and the group (Alma, Granville, Samuel, and herself) have fled Boston to avoid retribution. Their long-time frenemy, Tesla, provides their best hope at safety, so they head toward his lab, the Experimental Station, in Colorado Springs for refuge. Surprisingly, Tesla has a collaborator in his current project, House Zhou’s Meihui Zhou, but she seems willing to accept the ragtag group for the time being. When a dangerous failure kills one man and can be interpreted as a murder attempt, the four Bostonites opt to start looking around. The Great Houses may have deeper roots in Colorado Springs than anticipated, and Cailin’s morphing abilities might hold a key to finding answers.
Mystery at Pike’s Peak is my first foray into the Boston Metaphysical Society universe, and I was struck by the number of well-defined female characters. Caitlin, Alma, and Meihui play central roles, but the boarding house owner, Mrs. Hibbard, and hotel owner, Mrs. Winslow, are written with enough nuance and slowly key history to be fully developed (and possibly more important in issues 3 and 4). All three of the main women also face varying degrees of racism (Caitlin is presumably Irish, Alma is black, and Meihui is Chinese.), although Holly-Rosing changed some historical facts to grant House Zhou more clout in her version of the late 1800s. I enjoy narratives where women persevere and succeed when the world is biased against them, so while Mystery at Pike’s Peak isn’t focused on women’s and minorities’ roles in the 19th century United States, the subtle details of their strengths and skills were highly enjoyable.
I’m definitely not a Tesla expert, so I can’t speak to the accuracy of his portrayal in the series; however, many geniuses/extra-intelligent individuals throughout history lacked emotional IQ and/or social skills which made them appear arrogant, self-centered, and narcissistic. When I examine Boston Metaphysical Society’s Tesla through this lens, he feels extremely believable. Besides, if he came across as everyone’s best friend, there would be no potential for someone to want to kill him, right?
The art style and coloring in Mystery at Pike’s Peak makes me think of watercolors with a hint of pencil work to add texture and definition. Most of the colors are muted unless something is emphasized in the panel or page. The style gave me the sense of reading an old movie Western which I thought was a nice touch.
Each issue has a small prologue at the beginning and history notes (and citations!) at the end to provide extra context for the events. I’m a total sucker for any type of footnotes or additional information in my reading material, so my geeky heart grew with these additions. I haven’t checked out any of the links yet, but when I have time, I will be going down a research rabbit hole.
As a first-time reader in the Boston Metaphysical Society universe, Mystery at Pike’s Peak succeeds in being a good jumping-on point. The prologue in issue one provides enough context to help clarify some of the key plot points, and the story clearly is encapsulated in this short mini-series; however, I want to kick myself for not reading this series before since it has several things I enjoy: amazing female protagonists doing cool things, supernatural stuff, mysteries, and power-play intrigues. Clearly, I need to go back and start from the beginning. I highly recommend that long-time fans and new readers alike check out Mystery at Pike’s Peak, even if you mainly just want to see Tesla throwing a temper tantrum about too many women in his space.
4.5 Broken Teacups out of 5
Creative Team: Madeleine Holly-Rosing (writer/creator), Rio Burton (artist – Variant Cover: Issue #1 ), Steph C (cover artist – Issue #2), Angela Wu (cover artist), Elisabeth Mkheidze (artist), Kaytee Brown (colorist), Troy Peteri (letterer), James Boyd and Debbie Smith Daughetee (special thanks)
Publisher: Queen of Mercia, LLC
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