Thursday, July 7, 2011

Unleash the Kraken!

The concept of steampunk is still really new to me. It's a sub-genre of historical fiction, or a sub-genre of science fiction depending on who you ask. Meljean Brook's The Iron Duke comes up a lot on lists and reviews. I'll admit, I really liked it. But I liked her novella, which is something of a prequel, even more. It's called Here There Be Monsters and can be found in the anthology Burning Up. I normally hate anthologies and novella length stories, but in this case I'm recommending it. Here is my review:

At approximately 100 pages Here There Be Monsters is the perfect one evening read. Ivory is a Blacksmith of great talent, but she has little money to her name. She is desperate to escape London, where people have been mysteriously disapearing from their beds. She strikes a bargain with the pirate Mad Machen for safe passage if she agrees to share his bed. At the last minute she changes her mind and finds another way out. Eben, "Mad Machen", spends two years searching for her, intent on courting her.

The style of this story is at once unique and firmiliar. Distinctly steampunk in genre, it has a mix of historical and science fiction that is remarkably well balanced. Pirates, sea monsters, wacky inventions, and of course a heavy dose of romance. Ivory and Eben are both unusual and very likeable. I love Ivory's talent as an engineer and watching her develop that into a calling. The courtship between Ivory and Eben is surprisingly unhurried for such a short novel. It gets pretty over the top at times, but that's all part of the fun.

I only wish this story had been longer, but such is the way of anthologies. Very enjoyable, highly recommended. 4.5 stars.

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