A CLOCKWORK HEART was a decent second book in the Chronicles of Light and Shadow with interesting plot developments and huge twists. I like the very creepy concept of zombies being made with clockwork hearts and the shadow world in which Elle can connect with as the Oracle, though it wasn’t explored or explained very much leaving me a little confused.
Set in an imagined America after losing the Revolutionary War, HER LADYSHIP’S CURSE was, while not perfect, definitely original and enjoyable. It was a quick read, with a brave and spunky heroine, and a mystery with so many parts that I can’t even begin to guess how it is going to end.
This was a great story to start this anthology out with as it gives you the flavor of carnival life with its descriptions of sleazy carnies and weird, almost creepy relationships they have with eachother. PAINTED LOVE’s narrator, Doddle, was a weirdly passive and silent character and throughout most of the story I was constantly trying to figure out what his deal was.
COLD COPPER is another exciting installment of the Age of Steam series with a solid mix of steampunk and supernatural elements. I liked how it almost felt like a thriller as the plot moved at a constant pace and there was an intensity of wondering what danger lurks on the next page for Cedar and his friends.
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.