Book Review: ‘Pretty Waiter Girls’ by Greg Alldredge

An excellent steampunk fantasy mystery novel, ‘Pretty Waiter Girls’ is a captivating story set in San Francisco, 1899, where mystery, magic, science, inventions, petty crime and serial murderers exist uneasily alongside one another. 

Helena Brandywine is a charming heroine – young, feisty, smart, good-natured, and keen to rescue others from danger. While she aspires to become like Sherlock Holmes, Helena is more empathetic and less aloof than her hero. The detective, Doyle, and Helena’s companions and employees Sigmund and Lane are all effective foils for her youth and impulsiveness.  As they investigate the disappearance of a young socialite and the death of another young woman from very different circumstances, each of the central characters turns out to be as complex and challenging as the mysteries they seek to solve.  This sets up a dynamic between them that is both enjoyable and fascinating.

The narrative is interesting and exciting, and very well constructed. The story is as full of action and adventure as it is of mystery and intrigue. The writing has a positive, adventurous tone that really suits the genre and style of the story and keeps the reader hooked on the action of the story as the mysteries and challenges that face Helena unfold. The mysteries are well constructed, made more fascinating by their relation to questions relating to Helena’s family, and by their apparent connections to the shadowy beings that frequent the city in the dark. 

A most enjoyable read, ‘Pretty Waiter Girls’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

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Book Review: ‘The Slaughter Sisters’ by Greg Alldredge

Love Gaslamp stories? Read this.

2018-08-08 21.38.17‘The Slaughter Sisters’ is a gaslamp novella set in the same world as the author’s Helena Brandywine mystery series. The Slaughter Sisters are Faith, Grace and Charity, monster hunters extraordinaire.

The writing is lively and vivid, which engages the reader and enhances the dynamic characters. There is diversity and variety in the characters, some of whom are more complex than others. Each with their own strengths and flaws, the main characters are both highly individual and very complementary of each other as a group. One thing I really appreciated while reading is the way in which the author showed a character who had been perceived as a hindrance to be an asset, initiating new awareness and appreciation among the others. In this, the author subtly and cleverly teaches the reader a lesson about their own willingness to be positioned by the opinions of others and to allow that to influence our own acceptance and tolerance.

The plot is interesting, balancing the well-developed mystery and some sombre moments with some lighter moments of humour and irony.

Acorn Award I GoldenI very much enjoyed this story. It works well as a standalone, but it also makes me keen to read the rest of the author’s books set in this world. ‘The Slaughter Sisters’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

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