When I started blogging about books, my general goal was simply to write about the ones I was reading. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the recommendations of other bloggers would inform my reading choices and introduce me to new genres altogether. With very few exceptions, I don’t read a book these days unless I’ve seen it mentioned by a book blogger I trust. Steampunk is one of those new discoveries (haven’t heard of steampunk? check this out).
I’ve found a lot of stellar reads in this ‘genre’ over the past two years. I have also found a few that I couldn’t like. That’s the way a reading life goes. On the whole, though, steampunk has been good to me, and that’s why I’ve kept searching it out. Thus I was inordinately pleased to find a lovely new novel Steam & Sorcery through NetGalley (also, in case you didn’t know, NetGalley is THE BEST).
Sir Merrick Hadrian hunts monsters, both human and supernatural. A Knight of the Order of the Round Table, he uses both magick and the technologies of steam power. But his considerable skills are useless in the face of his greatest challenge, guardianship of five unusual children. At a loss, Merrick enlists the aid of a governess.
Miss Caroline Bristol is reluctant to work for a bachelor but she needs a position, and these former street children touch her heart. Merrick is the most dangerously attractive man she's ever met – and out of reach for a mere governess.
When conspiracy threatens to blur the distinction between humans and monsters, Caroline and Merrick must join forces, for the fate of London hinges upon their combined skills of steam and sorcery.
There are three main things I want to say about this novel (novella? it’s short-ish for a novel). Please don’t be put off by them. Or by that cover art. *shiver* I truly enjoyed this read, and I found myself thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it. Not in the ‘it’s so haunting!’ sort of way, but in the ‘I’m really enjoying that book and I’d rather be reading it right now than whatever else I’m doing’ sense. Understood? Awesome.
Numero uno: the steampunk elements are fairly light. Cindy Spencer Pape’s universe is very much along the lines of Gail Carriger’s steampunk creation from Soulless, and that puts it squarely in fantasy territory rather than science fiction. Also: I thought a couple bits of the plot didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I was really having too much fun with the characters to mind.
Secondly: this is (adult) romance. I know I just turned a bunch of you off with that, but WAIT, please. I said this book was enjoyable, and I meant that. It was quite entertaining aside from the romance, though I thought that bit was well done. Also: if you’re not into ess-eee-exx, you can skip or skim those parts. Really. It’s a part of the novel, but it doesn’t overpower it, and there’s plenty of warning before any such scene. Also? Did I mention that the love story was sweet? I. LOVED. IT.
Part C: fighting street orphans (!), Victorian-era London, mayhem, clockwork pets, paranormal creatures and mystery. If that doesn’t sound like a good time, this might not be the book for you. I found it endearing and just the sort of thing that I like. It wasn’t perfect, clichés abounded and there were some bits I glossed over, but I’m actually planning to go re-read it after I post this review. Commendation, hey?
Recommended for: fans of the lighter side of steampunk, Regency romance readers willing to try out a new genre, and anyone looking to while away a couple of hours with a comfortable and lovable story.