This review is copied from my blog, The Towering Pile. It was originally published here.
Risen takes place in 1880s London. Criminals who have been exeThis review is copied from my blog, The Towering Pile. It was originally published here.
Risen takes place in 1880s London. Criminals who have been executed are resurrected, with their memories wiped, to serve Prince Albert's Secret Commission in protecting London from supernatural threats. Jim Dastard is a mentor to newly resurrected agents, and is a skull. Artifice (Art) is Dastard's newest partner, and she's an artificial ghost (she can be solid or not-solid as she chooses). In this first installment of the Dark Victorian series, Jim and Art must track down a reanimationist, who is resurrecting dead children and causing them to seek revenge on people that they blame for their early deaths.
I know, it sounds weird. I must admit, I had my doubts about the animated skull and the artificial ghost. But they are delightful. Art becomes quite a fleshed out (no pun intended) character, as she tries to figure out what kind of person she was like in her past life, and deals with being a Quaker who also seems to have some violent tendencies. And Jim Dastard is a very witty talking skull.
Weirdly enough, I kept thinking that Jim shouldn't be able to do some of the things he could do. I mean, I could accept that he was a talking skull, but every time he said "hmm" I was like "how can you make that sound with no lips?!". Yeah, I'm strange like that. :)
I have no problem recommending this one, especially to fans of steampunk and other Victorian-era genres. I look forward to the next book in the series!
Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this ebook from the author....more
First off, let me just say that it is so amazing to read 400 pages of steampunk with no male main characters. That alone makes this book worth reading for anyone who's feeling a little under-represented in the genre. Similarly, the stories take place all over the world, not just in Victorian England, so there's a lot more cultural diversity than is typical. Yay!
As for the individual stories, as usual with short story collections I liked some more than others. However, I definitely liked more than I usually do in this one. For example, in the first story, Journey's End by Elizabeth Porter Birdsall, a material from asteroids is used to build engines, which causes ships to become sentient. After some decades of serving her crew, a sentient ship chooses a crewmember to fly her to her death. In Playing Chess in New Persepolis by Sean Holland, people from around the world participate in a chess tournament with giant steam-powered chess pieces of their own design, where both their technical abilities and their chess skills are put to the test. In The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho, the reader is shown a fascinating concept of the afterlife, in which people go to Hell, and then try to stay there rather than be reincarnated, and for belongings people have whatever their descendants burn for them.
So overall, while there were a few stories that didn't really do anything for me, I think there were more stories that had truly original ideas, really captured the essence of steampunk, and were really well-written stories that kept me interested and entertained.
Full disclosure: Free copy received through a Goodreads giveaway....more
For the first half of the book, I had trouble remembering who was whom, which made the story a little confusing. Once I got past that, though, I lovedFor the first half of the book, I had trouble remembering who was whom, which made the story a little confusing. Once I got past that, though, I loved it. The ending couldn't've been better....more