Tyburn Blossom’s #CBR 5 Review #9: Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant

Steampunk-Lincoln-steampunk-1038417_600_750I love anthologies.

I live alone, and my house has two bedrooms. The extra bedroom could have been a guest room, but instead it’s full of bookshelves. An entire bookshelf is filled with nothing but anthologies, and I’ve read every one of them.

They’re easy to enjoy–after all, if a story really is terrible (and I don’t know if my luck is good, my standards are low, or what, but stories I’ve considered irredeemable have been few and far in between), it’s not much of a time commitment to finish, and the next will probably be better. That can make them rather hard to review, too.

Steampunk! is…surprisingly…filled with steampunk stories. I kind of hate to delve into definitions, if for no other reason than that steampunk has gotten notoriously difficult to pin down, but for the uninitiated, steampunk is basically a kind of Victorian retro-futurism. Science fiction by way of the age of steam. There are dozens of blurred edges with other subgenres that often fall under the same heading if for no other reason than that steampunk is just easier to say, but there’s gearpunk and clockpunk and dieselpunk and mannerspunk and gaslamp fantasy and…yeah. Jules Vern and HG Wells are frequently cited as inspirations, along with Shelley and Lewis and others. There’s a lot of crossover with Lovecraft and weird fiction.

I could go on, but I’m here about one anthology, not about an entire culture. So how did this one stack up?

Read all about it at The Everyday Alchemy Lab.

AngelaBaldwin #CBR5 Review #1: Under the Rushes by Amy Lane

As with every Amy Lane book that I have had the joy of reading this one did not disappoint. From beginning to end I was entrenched in the lives of Dorjan, Areau, Taren and Krissa. Set in a Steampunk universe, a genre to which I am unfamiliar, some of the technological terms take a bit of getting use to but everything is written in such a way that I never felt lost. The relationship between Dorjan and Areau goes back to childhood and the twists and turns it takes throughout this story are incredible to watch unfold. This is not a light and fluffy story and if that is what you are looking for you should definitely pass on this one but if you love angst and drama then this should be right up your alley.

Dorjan and Areau are introduced as military men who are under orders to destroy a munitions keep. Dorjan spots a young boy under some bushes as his unit is making its way to the keep. As he makes contact with the young boy he finds that things are not as they were made to believe and Dorjan and Areau work to save the occupants of the keep. Dorjan and Areau are both injured during the rescue. Their commanding officer has his sights set on leading the military and his actions in the opening chapter of the book lays the ground work for the rest of this gripping novel.

Taren and Krissa are the “saviors” of this novel, they are unlikely heros and they balance the hurt that Dorjan and Areau inflict on each other. Taren and Krissa along with Madame M are intriguing characters that pulled me into their world and made want to keep turning the page to find out what happened next. Watching these characters come to life and come into their own with Dorjan and Areau was an incredible experience.

This was a phenomenal story that introduced me to a new genre that I look forward to plunging into again in the future. I look forward to diving into another Amy Lane novel very soon.

akadoor’s #CBR5 Review #2: The Warlock’s Curse by M.K. Hobson

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The Native Star by M.K. Hobson arrived on my front porch one chilly October day. It came from Amazon, lacking any sender information. The only thing in the box other than the book simply read “Happy All Hallows Read!” Now, I eventually determined who had sent the book (and by “eventually” I mean “almost immediately”—the list of folks who might send me fantasy novels out of the blue is tragically short), but the unexpected nature of its arrival is important because so much of the experience of reading it was a surprise. The Warlock’s Curse, Hobson’s third book and the third story from her unique alternate America, continued to surprise me at every turn.

The first two books in the series (called “Veneficas Americana”), The Native Star and Hidden Goddess, take place in the 1870s. The setting is softly steampunk (Hobson refers to it as “bustlepunk”), Gilded Age, and definitely magical. The Warlock’s Curse takes place in 1910. The bustles and steam have left the building but Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla have waded into the fray. The heart of the first two books is rooted in magic. The Warlock’s Curse is rooted in science.

Read full review here.

mandasarah’s #CBR5 Review #1: This Dark Endeavor: The Apprentinceship of Victor Frankenstein

When his twin brother Konrad falls ills, young Victor Frankenstein teams up with his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and their timid friend Henry to use forbidden alchemical knowledge to find a (potentially deadly) cure.  Will they find the cure in time?  Will they be betrayed by the people they trust?  Will they be pecked to death by vultures?  Tune in to find out!