Review: The Transference Engine by Julia Verne St. John

July 8, 2016 Review 1

Review: The Transference Engine by Julia Verne St. JohnThe Transference Engine by Julia Verne St. John
Published by DAW on July 5th, 2016
Genres: Adult, Steampunk
Format: eBook
Pages: 320
Source: NetGalley
Sexual Content: References to sex and rape
Reviewed by: James
3 Stars

A fantastical steampunk novel of magic and machines set in an alternate 1830s London.

Madame Magdala has settled comfortably into her new life in London, as the proprietress of the Book View Café, a coffee shop and extensive library. Her silent partner is Ada Lovelace, who will one day become the world’s first computer programmer—but who now is simply the young woman for whom Madame Magdala was a nursery maid.

Ten years ago, Ada’s father, Lord Bryon, was known as a great writer. But few knew of his powers as a necromancer. Upon his death, his devoted followers tried to repair the Transference Engine—a device that would allow Byron’s soul to claim the body of its choice. Magadala, along with Mary Godwin—a.k.a. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley—had to stop them.

While the original Transference Engine was destroyed, they were unsure whether they truly stopped Bryon and his followers. Together, they fled to safety in London, and built new futures for themselves.

Now, Magdala and Mary care for the Book View Café’s community, leading fashion, following gossip, and reading the latest periodicals. But when members of the café’s community mysteriously disappear, and rumors of a threat of royal assassinaton grow, Magdala finds herself with new mysteries to solve. The more she learns, the clearer it becomes that this is the same mystery returned—the Transference Engine is back with a vengeance.

I think a lot of readers like to imagine a world in which they could own their own cafe/bookstore, or maybe I'm just weird thinking that would be cool. But that's what made me pick up THE TRANSFERENCE ENGINE, a story about someone who owns her own cafe/bookstore in a steampunk world sounded pretty awesome. Few books get me as interested in them as THE TRANSFERENCE ENGINE did just by reading the synopsis, however, it wasn't quite as good as I wanted it to be.

My main issue with THE TRANSFERENCE ENGINE was that it was a stand alone novel that seems to pick up in the middle of the plot. There are a few other published short stories with Madam Magdala in them, but from my brief skimming of them they don't seem to be related to the main plot line of THE TRANSFERENCE ENGINE. In my opinion there should have been two full length novels before THE TRANSFERENCE ENGINE to really understand whats going on. Julia does quite a few flashbacks and just straight exposition about previous events, which I really dislike in books, especially stand alone novels. If the reader needs the information that badly then that event should be part of the story.

My second issue with THE TRANSFERENCE ENGINE is that it starts with one story line (which has a lot to do with events that happened before THE TRANSFERENCE ENGINE takes place) then at about the halfway point it switches gears to a completely separate story line. That story line ends satisfactorily, but the original one isn't tied up at all. I think there may be a sequel to finish that story line, but I don't know.

My final complaint is that all the action scenes are a big let down. There are only two of them, the midpoint and the climax. Neither of them were very satisfactory, and Madam Magdala wasn't even the one to accomplish anything major in the actions scenes. She's there, but it was the other characters that actually got the job done.

Despite all of that, I did enjoy THE TRANSFERENCE ENGINE. It was a fun read with awesome characters! The characters were the only reason I kept reading the book. If a sequel does come out I will pick it up. I'm interested to see if the original story line gets wrapped up.

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  • I can't really pinpoint why, but this book really reminded me of A Murder of Mages by Marshall Ryan Maresca, that I reviewed last year.

One Response to “Review: The Transference Engine by Julia Verne St. John”

  1. Ali Sutton

    I appreciate a great Steampunk novel, this one sounds great. I am reading the most realistic fantasy book I’ve read called Sun valley Moon Mountains by Ajax Minor, is the author site. Crazy name I know, but the book is fantastic.