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Steampunk Chronicles, book 2
Reviewed by Tehani Wessely
I discovered this series by chance, attracted by the gorgeous cover of the first book, The Girl in the Steel Corset, on the shelves of my local variety store. I picked it up on a whim, and absolutely loved it, so was delighted to be able to get a review copy of this, the second book, from NetGalley.
Finley Jayne has experienced a lot of life in her sixteen years. She’s not what you would call “normal”, but is working towards living her life as a whole person – rather than a conflicted creature not even she trusts – with the help of her “straynge band of mysfit” friends, including noble Griffin, super smart and sweet Emily, and strong and surly Sam. When the misadventures of their new friend Jasper take them to America, Finley and her troupe take on a new adversary, all the while still learning about their own abilities, figuring out how their friendships work, and discovering who can truly be trusted. Read the rest of this entry »
Tales of the Ketty Jay, book 1
Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce
I read about the first 150 pages of this 373-page novel properly. I mostly read about the next 100 or so, then skimmed the final 100-odd in case something interesting happened. It didn’t.
The setting is a world where dirigibles are kept up thanks to some element or compound called aerium and electricity is available but by no means universally accepted. The story seems to be entirely set within an enormous mountain range with lots of convenient valleys and hidey-holes for freebooters such as the main characters, with little suggestion of what else what might make up the world (they do visit an icy waste, but it wasn’t clear to me how this worked with the rest of the geography).
The Parasol Protectorate, book 4
Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce
This is the fourth book in the Alexia Tarabotti/Maccon series, The Parasol Protectorate. As such there are spoilers for the first three (Soulless, Changeless, Blameless), but there are NO major spoilers for Heartless.
When a ghost turns up in front of Alexia and mentions that there is a plot against the queen’s life, Alexia naturally flings herself into uncovering and halting it. Even if she weren’t muhjah and therefore responsible for such a thing, she could hardly help herself from meddling and being all Miss Marple-y. In the course of her investigations, Alexia must of course deal with the supernatural set – werewolves and vampires mostly – of London, have hair-raising adventures, and drink a great deal of tea. All of this while she is eight months’ pregnant. Oh, and her life is being threatened on a regular basis, too.
Allen & Unwin (2011)
Review by George Ivanoff
Ever since reading Richard Harland’s YA steampunk novel, Worldshaker, in 2009, I have been eagerly awaiting the sequel. I am very pleased to say that it has lived up to all my expectation. It’s an exciting, imaginative and engaging read.
Set in a world where Imperialist societies exist on massive mobile juggernauts, powered by an oppressed sub-class known as the Filthies, Worldshaker and Liberator are terrific example of the steampunk genre. Steam-driven machinery, Victorian elegance and exciting adventure combine to make these books difficult to put down.
In the first book we met Colbert Porpentine, grandson of Worldshaker’s supreme commander, and Riff, one of the Filthies. Together, they brought about a revolution in which the Filthies overthrew the ruling class and took over the juggernaut. In book two, the juggernaut has been renamed Liberator, but despite the high ideals of the revolution, things are going wrong. There is a saboteur on board the juggernaut, a murder has been committed, radical elements are gaining power and distrust is rife. The Filthies want to take their revolution out to the other juggernauts, but the Imperialist forces are determined to stop them. Col and Riff’s relationship is put to the test, as loyalties are called into question. Exciting stuff!
ISBN: 978 1 4052 4676 7
Reviewed by Tehani Wessely
Theo has lived his whole life hidden away in a mansion, knowing only three people: Dr Saintly, Mr Nicely, and the maid, Clarice. Everything he knows he has learned from books. He’s never been anywhere or done anything, except get his “treatment” from the Mercy Tube. Theo doesn’t even know what it is treatment for. Then one day, his whole life is turned inside out when he is liberated by the Society of Unrelenting Vigilance, a secret society that have been in opposition to Dr Saintly for a very long time, with Theo, and his strange power, torn in the middle. But where did his power come from? Who ARE the Society, and what do they want from him? The answers will take the reader on a rollercoaster ride of action, excitement and terror in a whirlwind of adventure and discovery.
Dakin has produced a thrilling story in Candleman, that manages to be both full of suspense and a highly accessible and enjoyable read. The characters are intentionally caricaturish in their description but still believable in their interactions, and while the story is a steam-punkish fantasy, I became quite immersed in the details and setting.
This is quite scary in some places, so be wary with younger readers, but it certainly hit the buttons for a great story that should appeal to boys and girls aged nine and over. The cover is not terribly appealing and looks like it’s aiming at an older audience than the story warrants, so it may need the “hand sell”, but I have no doubt it will be enjoyed!
Reviewed by Tansy Roberts, Syndicated July 2010
Yes, I grabbed this one as soon as I saw it (spotted in an actual bookshop no less!) and gobbled it up pretty damn fast. While Changeless didn’t feel quite so intense as its predecessor Soulless, I was impressed at how comfortably the world set up in the first book continues. While there is a fairly enormous gap between the world of the Parasol Protectorate and actual Victorian London, I would take Carriger and her Alexia over Charles Dickens any day of the week.
It’s hard to discuss this one without spoiling the end of Book 1 for readers, so all I can say cagily is that Alexia’s situation has changed greatly, and she has settled into her new roles rather well, and we get to spend plenty of time with all the good characters from the first book, and get to know some great new ones.
Twelfth Planet Press (2008)
Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce, July 2010
I have been a fan of the New Ceres shared world for a long time now. I love the concept – of a world, maybe a few hundred years into our future, where the inhabitants have decided to recreate the eighteenth century, right down to outlawing advanced technology like genetic engineering. Of course, the planet does have a spaceport, but it’s heavily guarded and all incomers have to pass stringent tests before they’re allowed through. And, of course, some people on the planet would quite like to live the Enlightenment lifestyle … with a little of their own technological enlightenment. The Lumoscenti are tasked with policing such technological infringements. Of course, they’re not entirely trusted by the Government, partly because they verge on being a religious order and partly because they don’t always play nicely with said Government. As a result, from what I can tell, the Lady Governor has set up her own cadre: the Proctors. They are tasked with various aspects of the planet’s protection, and Angel Rising is all about one of them – George Gordon.
Gordon got his first outing in “She Walks in Beauty,” in the first issue of the New Ceres zine. In her introduction to this novella, Tansy Rayner Roberts describes him as the bastard child of James Bond and Lord Byron, and that pretty much sums him up. That glorious, dangerous, mixture of the poet-warrior, the very definition of a rake, Gordon is a quixotic character at the best of times. Here, Gordon has been sent to a set of islands where the population is recreating eighteenth century Japan (which, as Gordon himself notes, means recreating the fifteenth), with his manservant Stilton – who, appropriately, is in charge of the cheese. The story itself is a fascinating one, and highly enjoyable, but Gordon himself is the key drawcard. It’s somewhat amazing, but in 51 pages Flinthart manages to sketch Gordon’s character (it’s by no means necessary to read the first story) and also develop it. Through his interactions with various other characters, Gordon’s background is ever so slightly teased out (there is room here for at least one novel, and as soon as Flinthart writes it I will have my money on the counter), along with his current internal conflicts. I would have no desire to rely on Gordon, personally, in the same way that I wouldn’t want to spend time around James Bond, but he makes for awfully good reading.
The story revolves around Gordon having to investigate a strange occurrence: reports of a downed space vessel, the sort of thing that has huge potential to disrupt the society of New Ceres. Of course, given that it’s Flinthart and New Ceres, it’s not a straightforward exercise to investigate it, of course: as Roberts’ introduction notes, there are samurai, and ninja, and nuns mixed up in it as well. She forgot to mention shape-changers and a bewitching amnesiac, but that’s ok. The novella format does not allow for any extraneous fluff, which is perhaps its most appealing factor. As a consequence, the story moves rapidly – from Gordon’s arrival in the Sunrise Isles, to his presence at a nunnery (Gordon! in a nunnery! The very idea makes my eyes water) under attack, and on to further revelations and discovery that occur at a breathtaking, breakneck pace that still manages to convey a sense of place, and of character.
Ultimately, I’m saying that this story could probably have been – well, maybe not ten times as long, but certainly novel length, and I would still have devoured it as quickly as possible. More Gordon! More New Ceres! More more!
Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce, July 2010
I am a Fan of Alastair Reynolds. I love the Revelation Space novels, I adore Pushing Ice and House of Suns, his name in an anthology gives me a thrill. Terminal World, therefore, was a very exciting prospect: a world with an atmosphere-piercing spire, and a city on it that ranges from electrical to pre-industrial? Unstable reality? Part Western, part steampunk, part far-future SF? Sign me up!
This is all a lead-up to the sad fact that Terminal World was a disappointment.
It’s entirely possible that other readers will enjoy this book more than I did. I came to it with perhaps impossibly high expectations. It’s not that it’s a bad book –far from it. In fact, I basically enjoyed it. But I didn’t love it, and there are serious flaws.
Reviewed by Tansy Rayner Roberts, syndicated July 2010
As I mentioned in a previous post, this is a book that has been calling out to me for some time. It’s Victorian urban fantasy! (or urbane fantasy, according to the author’s website, which is all kinds of awesome) The main character wields a parasol against vampires and werewolves! Mannerpunk! Oh yes. Completely my cup of tea. (did I mention the near-constant tea drinking?)
After resisting the purchase of this tempting morsel for so long, I snatched it up pretty instantly upon finally acquiring it, and read it over a couple of days. Considering how little book reading time I usually have, this is saying something. The story runs along at great pace, and with great humour. It really is like a cross between Jane Austen and PG Wodehouse, with added vampires, werewolves and steampunk.
Reviewed by Tansy Rayner Roberts, syndicated May 2010
This is one I have taken a while to read; I think because it’s so unlike what I normally do that I have had to wait between stints to be in the right mood again. I finished the last third at a fine lick today and enjoyed it greatly. This is the first steampunk novel I’ve read that was aimed at adults rather than children/YA and I enjoyed the extra crunchy levels of relationship drama that this entailed. (It’s also, incidentally, the first steampunk novel I have read which is written by a woman.)
In short, this is the story about Briar Wilkes, a widow who lives a hard life in the area outside late 19th century Seattle, a city no longer habitable because of an environmental crisis called the Blight that has poisoned the city’s air and turned a good chunk of its population into zombies. Briar keeps her head down, working hard and protecting her teenage son Zeke as much as she can from the truth about his father Leviticus Blue, the most hated man in the history of Seattle, whose grand digging machine brought the Blight into the city.