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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog SPEAK CHUCKABOO, SLANG OF THE VICTORIAN AND STEAM ERAS (Author Tool Chest) by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene (@teagangeneviene) Rum ti tum with the chill off! Excellent! #authors

Hi all:

I bring you a non-fiction book by an author whose fiction has often been featured on my blog. You’ll love this one!

Speak Chuckaboo, Slang of the Victorian and Steam Eras (Author Tool Chest) by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Speak Chuckaboo, Slang of the Victorian and Steam Eras (Author Tool Chest) by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Back in the days of steam engines and mannerly people, a chuckaboo was one’s dear friend. This volume contains slang from the Victorian Era, as well as the Steam Era, which began before the reign of Queen Victoria, and continued into the early 1900s. It combines language from the Victorian, Edwardian, and Steam Eras because there was a great deal of overlap.
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This slang dictionary also contains a sprinkling of vocabulary words of those eras, which have fallen out of use, along with some history and trivia.
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While every effort was made to be as historically accurate as possible, this compilation is not meant to be a scholarly work. It is intended for fictional use and entertainment purposes.
Have fun speaking chuckaboo. You’re positively rum ti tum with the chill off! Simply hunky dory.

International link:

relinks.me/B0B9W38LDJ

Author Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

About the author:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy.

Founder of the Three Things method of storytelling, her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. http://www.teagansbooks.com


Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?

https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM/

My review:

I discovered author Teagan Riordáin Geneviene through her blog quite a few years ago. I followed her three things stories (where she would write a serial, a chapter per week, following the suggestions left by readers), her three ingredients stories, and I discovered her longer works of fiction, which I recommend as well. She has a wonderful imagination, she can create characters and worlds that enchant, intrigue, and move readers, and she has a way of keeping the brain of the readers ticking and guiding their thoughts in unexpected directions.

Quite apart from her gift for fiction, the author has an evident love for research. When she sets her stories in a historical period (the Victorian era, the 1920s, the 1950s…), she peppers her narrative with details that bring it to life: songs of the period, inventions and discoveries of the era, styles of dress and fashion, makeup, colours, foods and drinks, recipes… You are immersed totally in the story and experience it through all your senses (yes, smells as well). I have learned about objects, historical characters, social mores and habits, transportation, and a wealth of information even about eras I thought I knew about, having read plenty of books and watched movies about the period. But you can trust Riordáin Geneviene to find some golden nugget of information you’d never heard about or the explanation for a particular saying that has always intrigued you.

One of the aspects of research I most appreciate in her stories is her use of words, expressions, turns of phrases, and jargon belonging to the location and historical age. Anybody who loves language is fascinated by how certain sayings and words came into being, and how and when became fashionable or dropped out of use. Any author who wants to write credible stories set in the past has to consider how the characters would have behaved and addressed each other. And that is why a dictionary of Slang, such as this one, is an invaluable asset and should be in any author’s tool chest.

The book is organised as a dictionary, with relevant entries for each letter, cross-references to other uses of similar words or expressions, and a short article containing relevant information about the period accompanying each new letter (related to a word beginning with that letter, of course). There are plenty of amusing expressions, notes on the dates when some of the expressions or words were first introduced, also some explanations as to why some of the most unusual terms came into being (I loved the entry about trousers. Oh, the Victorians and the legs!), and there is a sense of fancy and fun permeating the whole book.

I was surprised to discover that many expressions originating from the Victorian period were still in use (or at least I’d heard people using them, but that might be because I moved around a lot and met many people in different places and of all ages), at least in the UK. I was not surprised to discover that there were tonnes of words to refer to men and women’s genitals and to having sex (these are the Victorians we’re talking about, after all. Tell me what you don’t want to talk about openly, and I’ll tell you what you’re really thinking of). There were also many words for criminals and crimes of all sorts, prostitution, drinking, and drunkards, and a fair amount to refer, pretty humorously, to people of different social classes. There are also some true gems: words no longer in use that clearly and succinctly described feelings or thoughts that we don’t have a word for nowadays. (I love Excruciators: tight shoes, as I have suffered those more than once, and Gwenders: the numbness or tingling felt in the fingers when they’re cold.)This is a fun read, but also one that made me stop and think because language reflects so well the way people lived in that era.

The series Author Tool Chest also includes Speak Like a Flapper – Slang of the 1920s, and I hope the author will keep adding to it.

I recommend this book to all Writatives (‘one who loves or is inclined to write’) and all readers, especially those enamoured with language. It is Rum ti tum with the chill off (excellent)!

For those of you who enjoy a sample, the author shared the entries for the letter A of this book on her blog. You can check them out here.

Thanks to the author for another fun and witty book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to share with anybody who might be interested, to leave a comment, like, click, and especially, to keep safe and keep smiling. ♥

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview The Real World of Victorian Steampunk: Steam Planes and Radiophones by Simon Webb (@penswordbooks) A joy to read, informative and inspiring #steampunk

Hi all:

I had great fun with this book and I learned a lot. I hope you find it interesting as well.

The Real World of Victorian Steampunk: Steam Planes and Radiophones by Simon Webb
The Real World of Victorian Steampunk: Steam Planes and Radiophones by Simon Webb

The Real World of Victorian Steampunk: Steam Planes and Radiophones by Simon Webb

In the last few decades, steampunk has blossomed from being a rather obscure and little-known subgenre of science fiction into a striking and distinctive style of fashion, art, design and even music. It is in the written word however that steampunk has its roots and in this book Simon Webb explores and examines the real inventions which underpin the fantasy. In doing so, he reveals a world unknown to most people today.

The Real World of Victorian Steampunk shows the Victorian era to have been a surprising place; one of steam-powered airplanes, fax machines linking Moscow and St Petersburg, steam cars traveling at over 100 mph, electric taxis and wireless telephones. It is, in short, the nineteenth century as you have never before seen it; a steampunk extravaganza of anachronistic technology and unfamiliar gadgets. Imagine Europe spanned by a mechanical internet; a telecommunication system of clattering semaphore towers capable of transmitting information across the continent in a matter of minutes. Consider too, the fact that a steam plane the size of a modern airliner took off in England in 1894.

Drawing entirely on contemporary sources, we see how little-known developments in technology have been used as the basis for so many steampunk narratives. From seminal novels such as The Difference Engine, through to the steampunk fantasy of Terry Pratchett’s later works, this book shows that steampunk is at least as much solid fact as it is whimsical fiction.

https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Real-World-of-Victorian-Steampunk-Paperback/p/16372

https://www.amazon.com/Real-World-Victorian-Steampunk-Radiophones/dp/1526732858/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Real-World-Victorian-Steampunk-Radiophones/dp/1526732858/

https://www.amazon.es/Real-World-Victorian-Steampunk-Radiophones/dp/1526732858/

Author Simon Webb
Author Simon Webb

About the author:

Simon grew up in Croydon, Surrey and now lives near Durham, England. He works as a librarian and writes in his spare time.

His books include works of historical fiction, biography, true crime, Shakespearian pastiche, and local and religious history. He has also published books of poetry.

Simon has collaborated with Patricia Brown, Miranda Brown and William Duggan on recent volumes.

He has produced a popular modern English version of Robert Hegge’s classic ‘The Legend of St Cuthbert’ and an edition of ‘The Captivity of Elizabeth Hanson’ by Samuel Bownas. Simon’s verse translation of Chaucer’s ‘Parliament of Fowls’, and his editions of the Brief Lives of John Aubrey are also available.

He has recently edited editions of ‘The Bishopric of Durham’ (part of ‘Brittania’ by William Camden), ‘Bede’s Life of St Cuthbert’, ‘The History of King Richard II’I by Sir Thomas More, a life of the Quaker James Nayler by his contemporary George Whitehead (‘James Nayler: The Quaker Jesus’) and Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poetry book, ‘Love Sonnets of Dante and His Circle’.

Simon’s publisher, the Langley Press, has also published books by Heather Cawte (‘Poems in No Particular Order’) and Martyn Kelly (‘The Theology of Small Things’).

As a writer, Simon has been influenced by Shakespeare and Chaucer, among others, and by less well-known writers of non-fiction, such as C.J. Stranks, Robert Hegge, Philip Sugden and Andrew Chaikin.

His books are sold in the US, UK, Canada and elsewhere and have found their way into libraries in various parts of the world. Articles about, and reviews of, Simon’s books have appeared in local and national newspapers and magazines.

Simon has contributed reviews, pictures, poems and articles to magazines in the UK and US.

To contact the author, and for free downloads, exclusive extracts and more detailed information, please visit the Langley Press website at: http://tinyurl.com/lpdirect

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Simon-Webb/e/B0034PBK9S

My review:

Thanks to Rosie Croft from Pen & Sword for sending me a paperback review copy of this book, which I loved and freely chose to review.

I cannot claim to be an expert on the history of the Victorian period, and I did not discover steampunk as a literary genre until a few years back, although it has captured my imagination. I follow some blogs whose stories are set in the period, I am fascinated by the artwork and clothing inspired by the genre (there is a steampunk yearly convention not far from where I live now in Barcelona, and it’s a joy to see people walking on the streets dressed in steampunk fashion), and although I haven’t read many novels in the genre, I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve read. Because of all that, I was immediately grabbed by the title and the cover of this book. And I enjoyed it immensely.

The book is a joy to read. The author is an authority both, in steampunk fiction (although he mostly talks about early offerings and classic titles, but not exclusively), and in Victorian history, at least when it comes to little-known (at least to the general public) inventions and projects. His style of writing is easy to follow, not excessively technical when it comes to descriptions of machines and engineering feats, and he has a knack for bringing to life the material, including anecdotes that make us see the events in our mind’s eye (and wonder why many of those have not been made into movies).

Webb divides the book into nine chapter, plus a list of plates (there are 20 of those and they are a delight), an introduction (where the author talks about steampunk, shares a working definition, and explains the characteristics of the genre and its different visions and versions of the future or alternative history), and endword, a bibliography (not too long, consisting mostly of fiction books in the steampunk genre, some of the original books they got their inspiration from, and some research titles), and an index. As the author explains, there are many topics that could be covered in such a book, but he chooses some of the more habitual and the ones that give steampunk its flavour. I marked many passages in the book, so many that it is impossible to fit them all into a review, and, in any case, I’d rather you read it, but I’ll briefly mention what each chapter is about so prospective readers can decide if they’d like to find out more (Yes, you would).

Chapter 1, titled ‘Dreams of the Future, Visions of the Past’, elaborates on the introduction, talking about several of the early titles in steampunk (and proto-steampunk), and their visions of the future. As he notes, there usually is some point where some historical event changed (or some invention happened or didn’t) and that results in a fairly different future (or present). What we might not know is that some of the inventions and the alternatives these books offer are not as far-fetched or fantastic as we might think.

Chapter 2, ‘Of Steam Buses and Atmospheric Railways’ describes the existence of steam buses and other forms of steam transport that might sound strange when we read about them in this genre of novels and also of real railways built to work by the application of air pressure (similar to the system used to send messages via tubes in some old supermarkets and offices). And they were very fast!

Chapter 3, ‘The Mechanical Internet’ fascinated me. The fact that there were semaphore-towers across Europe in the XIX century that would allow messages to travel at incredible speed even from our perspective (the author mentions Terry Pratchett’s Dreamworld series) is mindboggling.

Chapter 4, ‘Steam Planes Take Off’ was an eye-opener for me. I knew about balloons and dirigibles, although not about balloons going into the stratosphere, and the explanation for why the Wright Brothers have been granted the fame and reputation they have now in the world of flying when there were many others who’d gone quite far (if not farther) before, makes one stop and think. History has always been unfair and not everybody who deserves to be remembered is. (Hiram Maxim is a captivating character and one I hope to learn more about in the future).

Chapter 5, ‘Steam-Powered Computers and Mechanical Calculators’ is another sobering chapter, a reminder of how different things could have been, and although I knew about some of the people involved (like Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter), I didn’t know that the word ‘computers’ was first used to refer to human beings whose job it was to make lengthy calculations (for example to compile logarithm tables).

Chapter 6, ‘Radiophones, Fax Machines and Hard Drives’ offers a great introduction to the topics. I learned new information about telephones, discovered that there had been fax machines even before the telegraph was widely in use, and found out that the technology behind televisions is much older than I realised.

Chapter 7, ‘The Quest for Renewable Energy’. This chapter is particularly applicable to this day and age, but the Victorians were already worried and thinking about such matters. Much of what appears now as new is nothing but, and the chapter goes a long way to explain how and why our society came to rely on petrol as much as it does.

Chapter 8, ‘The Resistible Rise of the Internal Combustion Engine’. Anybody who loves cars and/or is puzzled by our reliance on petrol engines will find this chapter a must-read. I knew that there were electric cars well before the first reliable petrol cars existed, but have now fallen in love with steam cars as well (I’d love to have one of the Doble Brothers’ inventions), and I found the explanation of why the internal combustion engine took over convincing and understandable (although quite sad. Oh, taxes and cheap oil… You have much to answer for).

Chapter 9, ‘The 11-Mile-Long Shopping Mall that Never Was’ describes a fabulous plan to build what would have an enclosed section of London, like a bubble of glass, where people would not have been at the mercy of the weather and traffic would have been fast and easy. It sounds wonderful but, once again, money was a problem (and I agree that a new sewage system was a priority).

Webb advises readers of the genre to do some research and concludes:

Steampunk, although generally described as a genre of science fiction, has in fact more in common with science fact than most aficionados ever realize.

This book is probably not for history buffs and experts on the matter, but for people interested in the topic and who are not specialists, it is full of gems.

In sum, this is a great book, a joy to read, informative, and inspiring. It will delight equally lovers of history, steampunk novels, and researchers interested in the topic. Readers and writers will find much to ponder upon (I’ve finished the book with a long list of other books to read), and it occurred to me as I read it, that writers of post-apocalyptic fiction would find it a good source of inspiration, as it has all kind of suggestions for contraptions and inventions that could have taken over the world if things had been different. Highly recommended.

I couldn’t leave you without sharing a video of one of the Doble Brothers’ cars. It seems that I have something in common with Jay Leno!

Thanks to Rosie and the author for this wonderful book, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always be smiling!
 

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE RESURRECTIONISTS (THE SALEM HAWLEY SERIES BOOK 1) by Michael Patrick Hicks (@MikeH5856). Creature/cosmic horror, a great protagonist, and a fascinating historical setting #horror

Hi all:

I bring you an impressive horror novella by an author I already reviewed a while back. I know some of you dislike horror but…

The Resurrectionists (The Salem Hawley Series Book 1) by Michael Patrick Hicks
The Resurrectionists (The Salem Hawley Series Book 1) by Michael Patrick Hicks

The Resurrectionists (The Salem Hawley Series Book 1) by Michael Patrick Hicks

Having won his emancipation after fighting on the side of the colonies during the American Revolution, Salem Hawley is a free man. Only a handful of years after the end of British rule, Hawley finds himself drawn into a new war unlike anything he has ever seen.

New York City is on the cusp of a new revolution as the science of medicine advances, but procuring bodies for study is still illegal. Bands of resurrectionists are stealing corpses from New York cemeteries, and women of the night are disappearing from the streets, only to meet grisly ends elsewhere.

After a friend’s family is robbed from their graves, Hawley is compelled to fight back against the wave of exhumations plaguing the Black cemetery. Little does he know, the theft of bodies is key to far darker arts being performed by the resurrectionists. If successful, the work of these occultists could spell the end of the fledgling American Experiment… and the world itself.

The Resurrectionists, the first book in the Salem Hawley series, is a novella of historical cosmic horror from the author of Broken Shells and Mass Hysteria

https://www.amazon.com/Resurrectionists-Salem-Hawley-Book-ebook/dp/B07S3RWLKN/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Resurrectionists-Salem-Hawley-Book-ebook/dp/B07S3RWLKN/

https://www.amazon.es/Resurrectionists-Salem-Hawley-Book-ebook/dp/B07S3RWLKN/

Author Michael Patrick Hicks

About the author:

MICHAEL PATRICK HICKS is the author of a number of speculative fiction titles. His debut novel, Convergence, was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist. His most recent work is the horror novel, Mass Hysteria.

He has written for the Audiobook Reviewer and Graphic Novel Reporter websites, in addition to working as a freelance journalist and news photographer.

In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

To stay up to date on his latest releases, join his newsletter, memFeed: http://bit.ly/1H8slIg

Website: http://www.michaelpatrickhicks.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authormichaelpatrickhicks

Twitter: @MikeH5856

https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Patrick-Hicks/e/B00ILI4XLK/

My review:

Wow! I read and reviewed another novella by Michael Patrick Hicks not so long ago (or at least it remains very fresh in my mind, you can check my review here), and I’d read great reviews for this novella as well, so I knew it would be good. In this novella, like in the previous one, the author manages to pack great (and pretty scary) action scenes, to create characters we care for, and to bring depth into the proceedings, with a great deal of sharp social commentary, all in a small number of pages.

This novella also combines elements from a large number of genres, and it does it well. Yes, it is horror (and “cosmic” horror fits it well) but that’s only the beginning. We have historical fiction (the 1788 Doctor’s riot, which took place in New York as a result of the actions of a number of medical students and their professors, known as Ressurrectionists [hence the title), who robbed graves to get bodies for study and experimentation, disproportionately those of African-Americans, was the inspiration for the whole series, as the author explains in the back matter); elements of gothic horror (fans of Frankenstein should check this novella out); some of the experiments brought to mind steam-punk, there are monsters and creatures (Lovecraftians will definitely have a field day); a grimoire written in an ancient  language with fragments of translations that brings the occult into the story (and yes, secret societies as well)… All this in the historical background of the years following the American War of Independence, characters traumatised by what they had lived through, and an African-American protagonist, Salem Hawley, who has to deal with the added trauma of past slavery on top of everything else.

The story is narrated in the third person, mostly from Hawley’s point-of-view, although we also get to see things from the perspective of some of the less savoury characters (not that anybody is whiter than snow here, and that ambiguity makes them all the more real), and it is a page turner, with set action pieces and scenes difficult to forget. The rhythm of the language helps ramp up the tension and the frenzy of some of the most memorable battle scenes (we have memories of real battles and also battles against… oh, you’ll have to read it to see), which will be very satisfying to readers who love creature/monster horror. There are also some metaphysical and contemplative moments, but those do not slow down the action, providing only a brief breather and helping us connect with the characters and motivations at a deeper level.

I guess it’s evident from what I’ve said, but just in case, I must warn readers that there is plenty of violence, extreme violence, gore, and scary scenes (especially for people how are afraid of monsters and strange creatures), but the monsters aren’t the only scary beings in the story (there is a scene centred on one of the students —the cruellest one, based on a real historical character— that made my skin crawl, and I think it’s unlikely to leave anybody feeling indifferent). Also, this is the first novella in a series, and although the particular episode of the riot reaches a conclusion, there are things we don’t know, mysteries to be solved, and intrigue aplenty as the novella ends (oh, and there’s a female character I’m very intrigued by), so people who like a neat conclusion with all the loose end tied, won’t find it here.

I have also mentioned the author’s note at the end of the book, explaining where the idea for the series came from, offering insights and links into some of the research he used, and also accounting for the historical liberties he took with some of the facts (I must confess I had wondered about that, and, as a doctor, there were scenes that stretched the suspension of disbelief. Fans of historical fiction might take issue with the factual inaccuracies if they are sticklers for details. Perhaps a brief warning at the beginning of the book might put them at ease, because I think that moving the note to the beginning could detract from the element of surprise and enjoyment). I was fascinated by this historical episode (I was more familiar with the body snatchers exploits in the UK), and I’ll be sure to read more about it.

A thrilling story, well-written, packed with action, creature and cosmic horror, a great protagonist and a fascinating historical background. I can’t wait for part 2!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me an ARC copy of this novella that I freely chose to review.

Thanks to NetGalley and the author, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep smiling!

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western (The Adventures of Bodacious Creed Book 1) by Jonathan Fesmire (@FesmireFesmire) Highly recommended to Western, steampunk, and zombie lovers #Western #steampunk #zombies

Hi all:

Although I’ve slowed down on my reading, don’t think I have stopped, and today I bring something pretty original…

Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western by Joanthan Fesmire
Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western by Jonathan Fesmire

Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western (The Adventures of Bodacious Creed Book 1) by Jonathan Fesmire

U.S. Marshal James Creed has known loss, starting from the untimely death of his wife and daughter in a sudden fire. His work, chasing down and arresting outlaws across the Wild West, is all he has left to live for. Then one day, in 1876, the infamous killer Corwin Blake catches Creed by surprise and guns him down.

Creed awakes after a mysterious young woman resurrects him in a basement laboratory beneath a brothel. Half alive, Creed feels torn between his need for justice and his desire to fall back into the peace of death. Creed’s instincts drive him to protect the city of Santa Cruz, California, from the outlaws it harbors while searching for Blake.

He uncovers a secret criminal organization, likely protecting Blake, determined to use resurrection technology for its own ends. The former marshal, now faster, stronger, and a more deadly shot than ever before, must work with a brothel madam, a bounty hunter, and the remaining marshals to uncover the criminal syndicate before they can misuse the machines of rebirth and create more mindless zombies. Meanwhile, he must also stop Blake, before the outlaw kills the only people he cares about.

His own death can wait.

https://www.amazon.com/Bodacious-Creed-Steampunk-Western-Adventures-ebook/dp/B073Z4KRVY/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bodacious-Creed-Steampunk-Western-Adventures-ebook/dp/B073Z4KRVY/

Author Jonathan Fesmire
Author Jonathan Fesmire

About the author:

Jonathan Fesmire lives in sunny Southern California with his son. His writes “The Wild Steampunk Blog,” located on his website, http://jonfesmire.com/. It covers steampunk, writing, art, and related topics, and also has many interviews with people prominent in the steampunk community.

You can find a detailed interview with the author available on his Amazon page.

https://www.amazon.com/Jonathan-Fesmire/e/B002BM1ZXQ/

My review:

I was offered a free copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

When I read the description of this novel, I must say I was intrigued. It’s a Western. But not just any Western. It’s a steampunk Western. I have not read a lot of steampunk (some blogs and short-stories) but I am intrigued by the concept, the art, the clothes… Oh, and there are zombies. OK, I could not resist. I generally like Westerns and historical fiction set in that period, but the unlikely combination of the three elements proved impossible to resist. And it did pay off.

I don’t want to go into a lot of detail about the plot, as it is full of surprises, and although some you might see coming, I assure you there’s plenty to keep the brain ticking and the pages turning. James Creed (“Bodacious” indeed) is a great character, although we only get a glimpse of the true man before he is killed and then… resuscitated. Anna, the madam of the bordello the House of Amber Doves, has something hidden in the basement, and she is an inventor, and also… Well, let’s say she hides more than her scientific knowledge and talents. We have Anna’s lover, Jonny, who was injured and now is also part of her experiments, although loyal, loving, and also a great inventor. There is a bounty hunter, Rob Cantrell, who, although morally grey at times, becomes a part of the team we root for. We have a variety of baddies, from psychopaths to business types ready to sacrifice anybody for an advantage and for the power to harvest all the knowledge, legal and not. Although not all the characters are psychologically complex, in most cases we learn what makes them tick, and discover that most of them hide interesting background stories and hidden motives for what they do.

The story, told in the third person but through a variety of character’s points of view (including Creed, Anna, Jonny, Cantrell, and some of the baddies), is set in a fascinating alternative version of historical Santa Cruz. Imagine that there is a compound (the ether) that can be used for the construction of automatons, cyborgs, healing units, and ultimately units that can bring the dead back to life. Imagine that human beings can be enhanced with something akin to bionic technology (yes, I know, but imagine that happened in the late XIX century). Imagine that a company has the monopoly of all these inventions (Tesla works for that corporation as well) and anybody who tries to invent or commercialize such things is breaking the law and can become an outlaw. And imagine that kind of technology in the hands of a crime syndicate in the old West. Yes, the combination of crime and technology, as we well know, can be very dangerous, and, unfortunately, not all the experiments bringing back the dead go well. Although that causes violence, mayhem, and deaths, we also have the good and useful automatons (or steelies, as they are called), the automated pets, Creed acquires a pet cyborg coyote later in the story, and we have undead cats and zombie rats… And the characters are not the only ones hiding secrets. Santa Cruz also has a few aces up its sleeves and it is an important protagonist of the story. Yes, not a moment’s boredom.

The alternating points of view help us get more perspectives into the story and understand better the motives behind some of the characters’ surprising actions. And although it is not always pleasant, it is interesting to see the action from the point of view of the bad characters as well (as some of their reasons are not always bad). Matters of morality, spirituality, personal versus community interest, and family ties are also part of this story that should satisfy Western lovers (yes, there are plenty of gun and fist fights, shootings, traps, wild rides), steam-punk enthusiasts, and although the zombie angle is a bit more subtle (well, at least for a lot of the book), I don’t think those who are into zombie novels will be disappointed either.

The story flows well, the language fits in with the imagined historical period (I am not sure what historical fiction readers would think, but my guess is that they might find it interesting), and there is enough description of the places and the inventions to make us feel as if we were there, without unduly slowing the action. As a doctor, I could not help but wonder about some of the actual experiments (Frankenstein is mentioned more than once), but sometimes you just need to go with the flow. There are lots of characters, though, so I recommend paying close attention when reading it. I did enjoy the ending of the story (well, I imagine there will be more books) but no spoilers here.

The end note of the author explains the peculiarities of the Santa Cruz of the book (the author hails from there) and also shares how the book came to be. The story of the startup he organized to fund the book is fascinating in its own right, and he explains how as perks for participating in the project, some people got to have characters named after them, including Cantrell, the bounty hunter, and in some cases, even helped write the part. A fascinating story inside another one.

A great mix of genres, recommended to those who love to try something original and don’t fear to tread outside of the normal paths. For Western, steampunk, and zombie lovers. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the author for the novel, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!

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