What a magnificent tale! Subtitled ‘Steampunk Snow Queen’ this was far, far more than a fairy tale retelling. It is a complex blend of Gaslamp fantasy, mystery, historical romance, and Shakespearean theatre that enchants and encompasses the audience, drawing them into the story and behind the scenes until there is no desire to escape.
The cast of characters is a varied and colourful as in any piece of theatre, their features, costumes and voices full of colour, texture and depth. Individually, they are lifelike and realistic; together, they generate a level of energy and drama that makes the audience feel as though they are right there in the scenes and events of the story.
A magical blend of beautiful writing and flawless narration, Ice and Embers is a masterpiece of storytelling.
This is the first of two books thus far in the ‘Wick and Lovelace’ steampunk/gaslamp fiction series, although both Iago Wick and Dante Lovelace both also appear in ‘Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen’.
Similar to life for a tempter such as Iago Wick, this book is never dull. Mystery, adventure, temptation and danger combine to provide a well paced, very entertaining read that hooks the reader early and proceeds to charm them into feeling far more empathy for a demon than most would be willing to consider wise.
Iago and Dante are delightfully devilish, giving the reader an insight into how demons might go about distracting and tempting humans while at the same time being thoroughly charming and polite.
The writing is fluent and witty, vividly bringing to life the Victorian-esque city of Marlowe, Massachusetts, and the spectrum of characters who live there. This is a story laced with dark humour and keen insight into what makes people tick, making it both very readable and deeply fascinating.
Overall, it’s a fabulously wicked and highly recommended read.
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.
Find your copy here.
Love Gaslamp stories? Read this.
‘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.
I 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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