This steampunk western adventure includes a bevy in a brothel, a lethal sewing machine, and love at first sight. Elizabeth Bear introduces her audience to KAREN MEMORY (actually spelled ‘Memery’), a working girl at the Hôtel Mon Cherie with a penchant for dime novels and a huge heart that gets her into trouble. The ladies of Madame Damnable’s are worth following all on their own, but Bear sweetens the pot with a series of mysterious murders in the vein of Jack the Ripper. The novel’s only misstep is in mild over-plotting, but there’s no denying it’s one hell of an adrenaline ride at the end.
THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE was an entertaining twist on the classic tale of THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. I love a good murder mystery and one where the protagonist in part doesn’t know if she is the killer makes for an especially juicy story. The story, like the kind upright Dr. Eliza Jekyll is split in narration between her and her more brash and violent alter ego Lizzie Hyde.
In this retelling of ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,’ Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed have mixed a little machinery with magic while delving into the Arabian culture, and bringing us a protagonist whose heroism is in his dedication – dedication to his craft, his family, and his desire to to what’s right. BABA ALI AND THE CLOCKWORK DJINN is a breath of fresh desert wind, and if the book suffers from some plotting and pacing missteps, it’s still a charming oasis for fantasy lovers looking to enjoy something a little less Western.
One of the best things about GUNPOWDER ALCHEMY is the fact that the worldbuilding takes place in China during the Qing Dinasty. I so rarely read books predominately set in Asia so it was refreshing to see steampunk mixed in with Chinese customs and history. I enjoyed seeing some of that culture play a role in the fast paced plot such as the
If you missed Sophronia Temminick’s Finishing School adventures as much as I did, you’ll love Gail Carriger’s latest trip to Madamoiselle Geraldine’s and the lessons in proper spycraft within the pages of WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY. The wider supernatural world closes in on Sophronia and her friends as the werewolf drama that sets the events of Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series into motion happens while the ladies are learning the art of the bladed fan. With her friend Sidheag personally affected by pack dynamics, Sophronia has no choice but to get involved herself. It’s always a delight to go back to school with Carriger, though, like Sophronia’s first outing, WAISTCOATS & WEAPONRY feels more like a stepping stone in a larger story than its own novel.
MONSTROUS AFFECTIONS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF BEASTLY TALES was a mixed bag for me with some stories being pretty entertaining and spooky while others fell flat or just outright confused me. Each story involved a twist on a classic monster or monsters who inhabit the world living alongside humans.
One of the most common tropes in romantic literature and even romantic comedies is the couple who at first absolutely hate each other and eventually fall in love after some trials and tribulations or hilarious hijinks. EVERNIGHT takes this type of relationship and starts right out the gate with Thorne seriously threatening to kill Holly. I was kind of surprised to see the death threats starting out so soon in the story so I was quite interested to see just how these two would go from wanting to commit homicide to love.
Perhaps the best of the series thus far, THE RIPPER AFFAIR is the confluence of a dark mystery, an exploration of London’s altered and haunting landscape, and the emotional growing pains of Bannon’s little family. A fantastic book for any one of these elements, combining all three makes for a relentless, mesmerizing read.
OF METAL AND WISHES hits that perfect blend of interesting world building, real characters, and romantic danger. Reminiscent of The Phantom of the Opera and THE HUNGER GAMES, these familiar components click together to create an altogether different dynamic. I couldn’t get this story out of my head until the very last page, and now I daydream about what comes next.
With these last two installments of THE KRAKEN KING serial, Ariq and Zenobia face their greatest challenges and darkest moments. While adventure through exotic lands has permeated all installments of this story, here at the end readers must confront the titanic forces arrayed against our hero and heroine.