While I wasn’t familiar with any of the characters or the overarching series storyline, THE MISS EDUCATION OF DR. EXETER’S plot was easy to get invested in and the characters were interesting and complex. Not having read the previous two books, I was pleased at how quickly I understood everything happening in this this super intricate plot.
DANCE OF THE RED DEATH is grotesquely beautiful in some ways but also slowly paced and a bit confusing. The visuals and the references to Edgar Allan Poe’s MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH were huge highlights. Much of Prospero’s macabre masked ball reflects the grotesque beauty of this world. Even outside of the ball there are so many instances of horror and death that Araby and her friends face.
The original fairy tales were pretty gruesome affairs with the wicked and sometimes the innocent meeting horribly bloody ends. LA VALSE is probably the most gruesome tale in CLOCKWORK FAIRY TALES was an interesting take on the RED SHOES by Hans Christian Andersen where instead of one bratty girl getting taught a lesson, horrible noblemen and women are tortured at a ball.
Lilith Saintcrow’s flavor of simmering emotion, significant glances, and dramatic mystery is a perfect compliment to the Victorian alternate timeline that contains her Bannon & Clare series. And while this tone makes for deliciously satisfying unspoken devotion, both romantic and platonic, it can also obscure the magical elements of the story beyond understanding.
THE GIRL WITH THE IRON TOUCH was a solid addition to The Steampunk Chronicles with lots of twists and fun concepts. The plot is pretty classic steampunk adventure with lots of interesting mechanical animals, odd human abilities, and one super creepy villain. A word of warning, The Steampunk Chronicles is one series where you should definitely start at the beginning with THE GIRL IN THE STEEL CORSET just to get all of the characters and plots straight.
One of the great things about THE HAVOC MACHINE is the fantastic introduction at the beginning to catch new readers like me up on the previous events of the Clockwork Empire series. While the introduction was a wonderful summary its not necessary the enjoyment and understanding of THE HAVOC MACHINE plot which is a fun classic steampunk adventure story.
HEART OF IRON is a fun steampunk story with a plethora of political dealings both with other countries and high society. There is a unique take in this story on women vying for a husband/suitor by going to balls like in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Except vampires take the place of Mr. Darcy and the debutantes are vying to be blood donors in order to have a life of privilege and wealth.While I loved the ideas and world building in HEART OF IRON I couldn’t connect with either Will or Lena.
An adventure of the purest form, EMILIE AND THE HOLLOW WORLD has stowaways, mysterious lands, foreign strangers, saboteurs, and intrigue, all flavored with just the right amount of magical steampunk technology. Though the pacing was choppy in the first few chapters, alternating between action and large chunks of exposition, once Emilie finds her place on this crew of adventurers and scientists, the story takes off.
Series enders are challenging because readers expect not just a fresh story and character resolutions, but also answers to every question they’ve asked over the course of The Infernal Devices trilogy. At well over five hundred pages, CLOCKWORK PRINCESS is a large book, which is fitting since it tells not just a large story, but one that satisfies all the demands that the legion of fans this series has garnered have placed on it.
THE CHOSEN feels like a delicious mix of Wild Wild West and Indiana Jones with paranormal touches. Luckily the details about the overarching relic quest and demon mythology were explained throughout the story without dragging the plot in order to catch new series readers up.