A Curious Beginning
Goodreads ratings
3.95 / 5

"A Curious Beginning" Summary

By Deanna Raybourn

mystery | 339 pages | Published in NaN

London, 1887. After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A Victorian adventuress teams up with a brooding naturalist to solve a murder mystery and uncover dark secrets.


In "A Curious Beginning" by Deanna Raybourn, readers are taken on a thrilling journey through Victorian England as they follow the adventures of Veronica Speedwell, a fearless and independent-minded woman. With a unique blend of mystery, romance, and historical fiction, Raybourn crafts a captivating story that keeps readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.

Brief Synopsis

The story is set in London in the late 19th century, a time of scientific discoveries, political unrest, and societal expectations. Veronica Speedwell, a young woman with a passion for butterflies and a sharp wit, finds herself in the midst of a dangerous and mysterious adventure.

Veronica's life takes an unexpected turn when she discovers that her cottage has been ransacked and an intruder has left a dead body on her doorstep. Fearing for her safety, she seeks refuge with an enigmatic and dashing natural historian named Stoker.

Together, Veronica and Stoker embark on a quest to unravel the secrets behind the murder and the identity of the person who seems determined to harm Veronica. As they delve deeper into the mystery, they uncover a web of intrigue, betrayal, and long-held secrets that threaten not only their lives but also the stability of the British Empire.

Main Characters

Character NameDescription
Veronica SpeedwellA bold and independent woman with a passion for butterflies. Veronica is intelligent, resourceful, and unafraid to challenge societal norms. She is determined to uncover the truth behind the mystery that unfolds before her.
StokerA rugged and unconventional natural historian with a troubled past. Stoker is a talented scientist with a deep knowledge of anatomy and a keen eye for detail. He becomes Veronica's ally and partner in solving the mystery, bringing his expertise and courage to the table.
Lady Wellingtonia BeauclerkA wealthy and influential woman who becomes an unexpected ally to Veronica and Stoker. Lady Wellingtonia is well-connected in London's high society and provides them with crucial information and support throughout their investigation.

Summary of Story Points

Chapter 1-5: A Mysterious Beginning

  • Veronica discovers the dead body on her doorstep and seeks refuge with Stoker.
  • Veronica and Stoker begin investigating the murder, uncovering clues and questioning potential suspects.
  • They encounter a secret society and learn about a valuable artifact that may be at the center of the mystery.

Chapter 6-10: Uncovering Secrets

  • Veronica and Stoker travel to a remote village where they believe more information about the murder and the artifact can be found.
  • They encounter dangerous individuals who are also searching for the artifact.
  • Veronica's past is revealed, shedding light on her connection to the mystery.

Chapter 11-15: Confronting Betrayal

  • Veronica and Stoker confront a traitor within their own circle of allies.
  • They face increasing danger as they get closer to the truth.
  • The true identity of the murderer and their motives are revealed in a shocking twist.

Main Events

  1. Veronica discovers a dead body on her doorstep, leading to her alliance with Stoker.
  2. The duo investigates the murder and uncovers clues that point to a secret society and a valuable artifact.
  3. Veronica and Stoker travel to a remote village, encountering dangerous individuals and unveiling Veronica's mysterious past.
  4. They confront a traitor within their circle and face increasing danger as they approach the truth.
  5. The true identity of the murderer and their motives are revealed, concluding the mystery.

Themes and Insights

  • Independence and Nonconformity: Veronica's character challenges societal expectations of women during the Victorian era. She embodies independence, intelligence, and a refusal to conform to gender norms.
  • Betrayal and Trust: The story explores themes of betrayal and trust as Veronica and Stoker navigate a web of deceit and uncover the truth behind the murder.
  • Identity and Secrets: The characters' pasts and hidden identities play a significant role in the mystery, emphasizing the power of secrets and the impact they can have on individuals and society.

Reader's Takeaway

"A Curious Beginning" offers readers a captivating blend of mystery, romance, and historical fiction. Deanna Raybourn skillfully weaves together a thrilling plot, engaging characters, and rich historical details to create an immersive reading experience. The story's strong and independent female protagonist challenges traditional gender roles, making it an empowering read for readers of all ages. With its twists and turns, "A Curious Beginning" keeps readers guessing until the very end.


With its engaging storyline, well-developed characters, and rich historical backdrop, "A Curious Beginning" by Deanna Raybourn is a must-read for fans of mystery and historical fiction. The book's combination of suspense, romance, and strong female characters makes it a compelling and entertaining read that will leave readers eagerly anticipating the next installment in the series.

A Curious Beginning FAQ

  1. Who is the author of 'A Curious Beginning'?

    The author of 'A Curious Beginning' is Deanna Raybourn.

  2. What genre does 'A Curious Beginning' belong to?

    'A Curious Beginning' belongs to the mystery and historical fiction genres.

  3. What is the main plot of 'A Curious Beginning'?

    The main plot of 'A Curious Beginning' revolves around Veronica Speedwell, a lepidopterist, who becomes involved in a mystery after her guardian's death.

  4. Is 'A Curious Beginning' part of a series?

    Yes, 'A Curious Beginning' is the first book in the Veronica Speedwell Mystery series.

  5. What time period is 'A Curious Beginning' set in?

    'A Curious Beginning' is set in Victorian-era England.

  6. Are there any romantic elements in 'A Curious Beginning'?

    Yes, 'A Curious Beginning' contains romantic elements as Veronica Speedwell develops a romantic connection with a mysterious man.

  7. Is 'A Curious Beginning' suitable for young adult readers?

    'A Curious Beginning' is more suitable for adult readers due to its mature themes and content.

  8. What is the overall reception of 'A Curious Beginning'?

    'A Curious Beginning' has generally received positive reviews for its engaging plot and well-developed characters.

  9. Are there any sequels to 'A Curious Beginning'?

    Yes, 'A Curious Beginning' is followed by several sequels in the Veronica Speedwell Mystery series.

  10. Where can I purchase a copy of 'A Curious Beginning'?

    You can purchase a copy of 'A Curious Beginning' from various bookstores and online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.