Saturday, September 22, 2012 |
Right around the time that I read Meljean Brook’s novella “Here There Be Dragons,” I knew I’d found a new auto-buy author.  Brook combines imaginative world building with great characters, romance, and a focus on the social politics of her world. The combination is electric, and I have yet to be anything less than delighted by her steampunk The Iron Seas series.

riveted by meljean brook book cover
A century after a devastating volcanic eruption forced Iceland’s inhabitants to abandon its shores, the island has become enshrouded in legend. Fishermen tell tales of giant trolls guarding the land and of seductive witches who steal men’s hearts. But the truth behind the legends is mechanical, not magic—and the mystery of the island a matter of life and death for a community of women who once spilled noble blood to secure their freedom.

Five years ago, Annika unwittingly endangered that secret, but her sister Källa took the blame and was exiled. Now Annika serves on the airship Phatéon, flying from port to port in search of her sister and longing to return home...but that home is threatened when expedition leader David Kentewess comes aboard.

Determined to solve the mystery of his own origin, David will stop at nothing to expose Annika’s secrets. But when disaster strikes, leaving David and Annika stranded on a glacier and pursued by a madman, their very survival depends on keeping the heat rising between them—and generating lots of steam...

Riveted is the story of two people hunting for their pasts.  Annika has been seeking her sister Källa for four long years while traveling the world as an airship mechanic.  She’s been hiding her origins and hoping that the next stopover will bring news that will allow her to return home.  David Kentewess is on a mission to find his mother’s birthplace, but he’s also a volcanologist, traveling to the far corners of the earth to study mountains and their eruptions.  Each has their secrets, but they’ll be forced to share more than secrets when a brilliant (mad?) mind threatens all.

In The Iron Duke and Heart of Steel, the main source of action and movement was a physical threat.  While element remains in Riveted, both David and Annika’s pasts play a much larger role.  Where they are from, who their parents were, what they are escaping and what they have come to turns with – these drive the plot and development at least as much as physical danger.  And Brook has done a fantastic job of making that transition not only interesting, but page-turning.

I won't write more about the content of the book or unravel its secrets in a review.  That is for the reader to do.  What I will say is that Brook addresses themes of gender and sexuality, race and religion, the results of colonialism, and how people navigate within culture and grapple with experiences different than their own.   Don’t get me wrong – it IS a satisfying steampunk romance.  But it is ALSO an extremely thoughtful book, and I find (perhaps you do too?) that the smarter the story, the more I enjoy it after the fact.

Riveted is a winner, and I can tell I’ll be reading it again soon.

Recommended for: fans of intelligent romantic fiction, those who enjoy steampunk, and anyone who appreciates stories that break the mould and characters that go far beyond ordinary.  

Interested in more steampunk?  Check out the Steampunk Week in September calendar of events.

1 comment:

Liviania said...

I have The Iron Duke in my TBR. I like Meljean Brook and have heard great things about this series, I just haven't managed to get to it.

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