A Clockwork Heart by Liesel Schwarz
(Del Ray, 2013, 304 pages)
Hugh and Elle are enjoying their newly married status but, like any newly married couple, are struggling to agree on a few aspects of their new lives together. After a particularly intense fight over Elle’s flying schedule, Elle returns home to find Hugh missing and rumors about people walking around at night surrounded by a strange ticking noise. Elle now has to use her powers as the Oracle to track down Hugh with the help of Loisa, a Nightwalker. Throughout Elle’s search, she meets new friends and enemies and discovers the mystery of Hugh’s disappearance and the clockwork zombies are more intertwined then she expected.
This is the second book in The Chronicles of Light and Shadow series and although it has a slower pace in the beginning, I really enjoyed the ending and the different Steampunk characters that Schwarz introduces. I’m glad that Hugh’s character had a backseat role this time around because that gave way for other characters to develop, like Loisa. I also liked that Schwarz showed that Elle didn’t need Hugh to be a strong heroine and that she’s a little more independent then I originally thought. I wasn’t super excited to read the second book in the series but with the surprise ending, I can’t wait for the next installment, Sky Pirates, coming out next year!
A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
(Del Ray, 2013, 352 pages)
Elle Chance is one of the few airship-pilots in 1903 so she takes any work that she can get, even if it means doing work for the Shadow. But the job that is given to her by her friend Patrice and his companion Marsh really gets her into trouble. Elle’s father is kidnapped by the Alchemists and Elle and Marsh must try and track the Alchemists down and save Professor Chance. Along the way, they run into trouble with different creatures of the Shadow and learn she might have a powerful gift herself.
Now this was a Steampunk book I could get into. I loved the story and how Schwarz stuck with one main conflict while slowly introducing complications and advancing the story. Her fantasy characters are ones I don’t get to read about very often like alchemists, warlocks, absinthe fairies, nightwalkers (which are really just vampires) and even sky pirates. The world is split into two groups, the Light and the Shadow. The Light is filled with non-magical creatures while the Shadow is just the opposite. This could be a stand-alone book if it wasn’t for the small epilogue at the end which continues the series and the mystery. I’ll be looking forward to the second book in The Chronicles of Light and Shadow series coming out in August.
Ironskin by Tina Connolly
(Tor Books, 2012, 304 pages)
Alright, try to stay with me for this synopsis.
It’s been 5 years since The Great War with the fey and Jane is continuing to struggle with her new life. After a fey bomb left her face scarred during one of the last battles, she must wear an iron mask over her face to prevent people from feeling her fey curse, which is rage. Jane answers a mysterious listing for a governess and arrives to find Dorie, who has some fey powers including moving things with only her mind and drawing in a blue light. Edward, Dorie’s father, explains that the fey captured Dorie’s mother while she was still pregnant and that is why Dorie is gifted. Jane must find a way stop Dorie from using her gift before she is deemed a social outcast while also fighting her feelings that are developing for Edward. Jane hardly sees the mysterious Edward as he is devoted to his work, but Jane can’t help but wonder how so many plain women go into his study and come out beautiful, almost fey beautiful.
I had high hopes for this book as it was a retelling of Jane Eyre in a steampunk version. This was my first try reading a steampunk novel but I just couldn’t get into the story. It almost seemed like Connolly was so busy trying to retell Jane Eyre that she left a lot of plot holes open and didn’t develop characters as well as they should be. For example, Edward is hardly ever seen but suddenly Jane is in love with him and I’m wondering if she remembers his first name. I’ll definitely give steampunk another try and hopefully have a better pick.