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Stone Mad

(Karen Memory #2)

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3.66  ·  Rating details ·  685 ratings  ·  137 reviews
Readers met the irrepressible Karen Memory in Elizabeth Bear’s 2015 novel Karen Memory, and fell in love with her steampunk Victorian Pacific Northwest city, and her down-to-earth story-telling voice.

Now Karen is back with Stone Mad, a new story about spiritualists, magicians, con-men, and an angry lost tommy-knocker—a magical creature who generally lives in the deep gold
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Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 20th 2018 by Tor.com
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Emily I read Stone Mad first, and I could tell I was missing details about the characters' pasts, but it was still a good story. Not necessary to read Karen…moreI read Stone Mad first, and I could tell I was missing details about the characters' pasts, but it was still a good story. Not necessary to read Karen Memory first, but you might as well.(less)

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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  685 ratings  ·  137 reviews


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Lindsay
Jan 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Checking in on Karen and Priya shortly after the events of Karen Memory for a very short novel (only slightly over novella length) follow-up.

Karen and Priya are out for a night on the town, a sort of honeymoon, when they encounter spiritualists and an illusionist as well as a haunted hotel, all of which put pressure on their early relationship.

I actually think this length works well for steampunk novels. It's just long enough to appreciate the aesthetic and the action without d
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The Captain
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there me mateys! I read the first book, karen memery, back before I had this log. It was fantastic. This be book two. They both take place in a “steampunk Victorian Pacific Northwest city” with a western feel. While I try to post no spoilers, if ye haven’t read the first book then ye might want to skip this post. If ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . .

I think Karen Memery be one the more fun characters to read about and is wri
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lov2laf
"Stone Mad" is a novella sized follow up to the book "Karen Memory". I would recommend NOT reading this as a standalone.

I appreciated that this story focuses on the relationship between Karen and Priya as well as throws in some steampunk and paranormal mystery. It's been awhile since I read the first book but, from what I recall, Karen and Priya's interactions were minimal which, for me, was not very satisfying.

In this read, we see Priya and Karen on their "wedding night"
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Robyn
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
3.5 stars. An evening in the momentous life of Karen Memery! I enjoyed this novella/novel, but found the plotting a bit chaotic. However, always good to spend some time with Karen!
Danika at The Lesbrary
I was so excited for this! Victorian spiritualists are my jam. Plus, there are all kinds of cryptids in this world! And an exploration of Karen and Priya's relationship. I unfortunately, I found the plot structure baffling: all the excitement happens in the beginning of the book, and then it seems to come to an abrupt end. I was hoping for more.

Full review at the Lesbrary.
Rachel (Kalanadi)
3.5 stars. Liked the tommy knocker part of the story, but the ending wobbled a bit. Most of the action felt like setup for a heart to heart between Karen and Priya about their relationship, which I didn't quite understand was the point of the story... until it was over.
Arlene Allen
Honestly I was so disappointed in this Karen Memory novella. It’s mostly about Karen and Prius’s first big fight with an illusionist’s wife and mediums thrown in. The book had an unfinished feel to it - what and who were the sisters, what was the mystery at the hotel, and what the heck was the deal with the mudslide?

I’d read another in the series and pray it’s better than this
Peter Tillman
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: at-bg-pa, fantasy, stalled
Progress report:
I'm having trouble getting into this one. Fine writing, as I totally expect of Bear, and I LOVE the steam power-armor made from a Singer sewing-machine by her gorgeous Tamil engineer GF -- but there doesn't seem to be a lot of there there, as who's her name would say -- ah, Gertrude Stein. Padded-feeling. I'm at the Tommy-knocker who's almost knocked down the fanciest hotel in Seattle, aka Rain City, aka Rapid City, which had me totally confused at first. She's working up h
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Sana
Feb 08, 2018 marked it as to-read-so-bad-it-hurts  ·  review of another edition
Karen getting to live out her dreams?! Sobs, I'm fine
Ron
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
“Overkill is something of a personal defect."

The subtitle tells it all: recycled. Not a bad story, but neither the story nor the characters are half as complex and engaging as in Karen Memory. Bear tried to compensate with the interplay among Karen’s female friends, but that felt forced, too. Even the antagonist is sympathetic and not very threatening.

“Deciding you know something when you don’t is about the deadliest thing a person can do.”

Lots of preaching, w
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Kat
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Short and quickly paced. And then out of nowhere, there are some passages about long-term relationships that strike you to your core. The author knows her human nature.
Rene Sears
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
I adored Karen and Priya in Karen Memory, and I was delighted to return to Rapid City in Stone Mad. Karen and Priya are out to dinner to celebrate moving into their new house when two women in the dining room start faking the presence of a spirit, but matters quickly devolve when a real presence seems to respond. Karen wants to stay and either expose the charlatans or find out what's really happen, while Priya doesn't want to get involved, and on the eve of their moving into their house, they ha ...more
Bridget Mckinney
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I rather liked Karen Memory, but Karen's folksy dialect was grating this time around instead of endearing. I'm thinking it might be a matter of the wrong book at the wrong time for me, so I may come back to it at a later date, but for now I just found it unreadable.
Bonnie McDaniel
This is a novella-length continuation of Elizabeth Bear's weird steampunk Western, Karen Memory. I loved that book, with its classic pulp feel (and in one chapter, literally Jules Verne-esque vibe). This story picks up about a month later, with Karen leaving Madam Damnable's (a house of "seamstresses," or shall we say, ill repute) behind and moving to her own little ranch with her girlfriend, Priya.

There's a side plot involving spiritualists, illusionists, and "tommy-knockers" i.e. borglums (I'm not s
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Karen A. Wyle
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk, lgbtq
I'm rounding up about half a star.

I enjoyed Karen Memory, but didn't remember much about it by the time I read this short novel. I was relieved to find that Bear deftly provides reminders without letting them slow the pace of the story. Karen and Priya are an intriguing not-quite-odd-couple, and this story is as much about the growing pains of a relationship as about illusionists, spiritualists, and tommy-knockers.
Geonn Cannon
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
A quick (too quick!) read, but not slight. Lots happening here, and a great peek at what happens with Karen and Priya after the events of the first book. It's not always pretty. But it feels more real than everything being perfect. It was great to revisit Karen's world. Hopefully we'll get more chances for longer stays!
Rebecca
Jun 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Not quite as wonderful as the original, I think it was trying to tell two big stories in a little novella and ended up doing each only passably well. The Tommyknocker was fantastic, lots of action/adventure/etc. I also really appreciated the quieter moments at the end with Karen and Priya. I can get how the ending might be a let down after all the intensity of the Tommyknocker, but...I really liked Bear's interest in telling their story after their happily-ever-after. Here are two people who hav ...more
Patrick DiJusto
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Part Two of the Karen Memory Steampunk series, which I love.

In this episode, we leave the steampunk behind and enter the world of fantasy. Normally, this would have caused me to close the e-reader, delete the file, and pretend that I had never heard of this book. But in the hands of Elizabeth Bear, I was able to bear the fantastical elements and enjoy the story.
Sarah
Apr 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This is short-- more of a novella, really-- and I'm not sure what it's supposed to add to the series' universe. Granted that it has been a while (wow, quite a while) since I read the first one, but I remembered it as being more steampunk, less gaslamp, whereas this one, while it certainly had some steampunk accoutrements, relied more on a paranormal being. This made it seem like it didn't fit as well into the universe established in the first book. Still enjoyable if short.
Neeuqdrazil
More delicious ridiculousness from Karen and Priya.
Sonja P.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This series continues to be super fun and I am here for it. Also, one of the best discussions of love and marriage in any book I've read lately, for real, with people working out their problems and talking about being angry and being forgiving and how to deal with people who hurt you. Short, and fun and a delight
Kam
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, steampunk
from @kamreadsandrecs on Instagram

Review is based on an ARC given to me for free by the publisher. This is due for release on March 20, 2018.

Karen and Priya are BACK, and though they aren't dealing with Very Big And Dangerous Trouble this go-round (leastways when compared to what happened the last time in Karen Memory - go read it and find out, it's awesome!), they're still in trouble and make no mistake. But while this story isn't as big and bombastic in terms of plot, it's still ridiculously fun and full of heart, which is what really m
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Karl
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars for another fine adventure with Karen Memery. This strong sequel provides the reader with more backstory on the unique main character and some damn fine dialog. My only real issue here would be the relatively short length and scope of the story. The subtitle notes that this is "an adventure," and that's what it is: an episode in what we can only hope is a long-running series. This book is exciting, inventive, thoughtful, and lovely way to while pass an afternoon.
Chris Bauer
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bear does it again. This novella length work, a followup to Karen Memory, picks up where the action stopped in the novel.

Bear writes such exquisite and hard-hitting prose, I enjoy just following along the story, without much else to think about. The characterization in this work is some of the best I've read in a very long time.

She introduces new elements, new backstory and new details to her unique setting and we - as readers - get to enjoy the fruits of that labor. Dialogue was es
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Christopher Gerrib
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was a huge fan of Karen Memory, the first book in this series, and so eagerly acquired this one. I was not disappointed. Karen and her girlfriend / wife (not legally, but in all other ways) have retired from "sewing" to the honest work of running a ranch. The ladies are out on the town when the town, or at least the part they are in, is undermined by unknown forces. They have to team up with a trio of female spiritualists to figure out what's up (or rather down) and fix it before the whole cit ...more
Jen Grogan
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I love that this keeps up on Karen's relationship with Priya, and that it continues the trend from the original book of having other interesting female characters around them. I especially liked that one of them is an older widow - she was a very fun and unexpected character.

Otherwise... ehhhh. The pacing felt a little uneven, the beginning felt like it had too much throat-clearing, and I never wound up much caring about any of the supposed peril.
Kelly
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fun steampunk adventure that also happens to contain advice on how to have a healthy, long-term romantic relationship. Yet more great stuff from Bear. I can't wait for the next Karen story, she's a wonderful voice.
John
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Still love the voice, but this is more a great short story s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out by lots of discursive passages and lectures on what makes a solid marriage.

Choice lines:

“Hypatia wisely had a little derringer in her décolletage, a bosom gun for a bosom that matched up with the rest of her, which was to say that she had a figure of consequence.”

"She was warm and I was cold, and she didn’t pull away. I was trying to decide if I should wake her up to tell her I nearly died a
...more
Liz
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-f
Four stars because I just adore Karen Memery as a narrator. I could listen to her tales, tall or otherwise, all the day long.

This novella didn't hang together quite as well as the first one. All three of the main plot threads (tommyknocker, the spiritualist sisters vs. the illusionist widow, and Karen & Priya's struggles to sort out their relationship) felt unfinished. I would have enjoyed it more if the author had focused on any two of them, giving them a little more room to dev
...more
Kiwi Carlisle
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have only one complaint about this sprightly sequel to Karen Memery—it’s too short. Can we please have another, but full-length this time? Reading it was like having my mouth set for a big old piece of pie and getting a flaky little pastry instead. It was tasty, but so small! The characters and setting are still charming and I really enjoy this alternate world, so don’t just tease us, Bear!
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Other books in the series

Karen Memory (2 books)
  • Karen Memory (Karen Memory, #1)
“And then I felt sick for believing in spite of myself. You get invested in things—love affairs, politics, con games—and you tie yourself in knots trying to make reality match up to what would make you happiest. The mad part is, what would make you happiest is to get your cope on for what is, rather than what you would rather have happen.” 1 likes
“It’s funny, ain’t it, that nobody holds giving men the illusion they want about themselves against wives, though they hold it against the sisters. And nobody holds it against the illusionists, though they do against spiritualists. I’m not quite sure how to explain what I’m driving at, except it seems to me that these things is all linked.” 0 likes
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