Kater Cheek's Reviews > Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti

Mechanique by Genevieve Valentine
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Jun 05, 2011

it was amazing

You will never read another book quite like this one. Lyrical, charming, dark, and very, very steampunk. It's a tale of the circus, of acrobats with copper bones, of a war-torn post apocalyptic society, and of two people drawn together by their desire for a pair of metal wings. This is not the sort of book I usually read, and this is not the sort of book I usually enjoy.

The chapters are short, and they all take place from differing points of view. The circus Tresaulti has many characters, and if you read the chapters one by one, their lives and stories unfold before you. I thought this would be a pretty book, just a series of set pieces describing a fascinating world, but as I got hooked into their life and their history, a plot began to unfold. It's a good plot, but this novel isn't really about plot, it's about showing you the mysterious and magical Circus Tresaulti.

Valentine has a distinctive voice. She's fond of parenthesis and using paragraph breaks for emphasis. If you don't have your heart set on a standard narrative arc, you might find yourself entranced by the prose. It's quiet and dark and wise. This novel is about mood as much as anything, and the mood is one of fallen glamor, and gold glinting among rubble.

How the characters are able to be steampunk automatons is explained by pure magic. It's not a high fantasy sort of magic. The Boss (ringmaster) doesn't explain how she does what she does, nor does she really know. You won't really know either, but it doesn't matter.

I recommend this for people who really like steampunk, for people who only kind of like steampunk, and for people who don't even know what steampunk is but want to spend a few hundred pages in an unusual world. It's beautiful and sad, and not escapist or fluffy, but not throat-slitting dark either.
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