Anna's Reviews > Steam & Sorcery

Steam & Sorcery by Cindy Spencer Pape
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's review
Jun 24, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, steampunk, hollie

Steam & Sorcery is a quick read, and with two protagonists, an aunt, five children, and a variety of side characters, you'd think it would be quickly overwhelmed by a confusing number of names, but Pape does a fantastic job in giving them all dimension and keeping them distinct. Children are especially difficult to write well, since they often veer either to acting several years younger/older than they're meant to be or simply depicted as being so annoying you grit your teeth every time they're on the page (assuming, of course, the author pays much attention to them other than being used as a plot device). In this case, however, I honestly liked each of the children, and in spite of there being five of them, they had distinct personalities and abilities. (It helps that they're not very young children, ranging in age from 9-15.) I could have happily spent the entire book in the nursery, watching the kids adjust to their new surroundings and interact with Caroline and with each other. They were fun to read about and I actually wished we spent a little more time with them. We do spend a bit of extra time with the two oldest, Tommy and Wink, a potential Knight and a mechanical genius, respectively.

You may have guessed by this point that Steam & Sorcery is a very character-driven book. The plot does suffer a bit for this, becoming more of a random series of events that culminate in a big finale rather than something that builds one piece at a time to a natural conclusion. There are a number of elements that are introduced and then kind of wither off into nothing, sitting around unused and watching the character interplay. Not that I could blame them, because that's pretty much what I was watching while reading, too.

Pape is also fond of splitting her phrases. It's not at all unusual to see two or three em dashes in a page, sometimes even in one paragraph:

Caroline saw the fear that lurked behind his pale gray eyes. These children were bold but terrified. It would be good to put their minds at ease before she went on her way --and she could have another bite or two while she was about it. The sandwiches were delicious, after all --if she nibbled long enough, she wouldn't have to buy supper tonight.

I have nothing against a good em dash, but when they're used that often, it becomes noticeable.

It's not a perfect book, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it immensely anyway. Truth be told, I pretty well devoured the thing. It's a quick read, and a lot of fun, and not only am I looking forward to reading the next two volumes in the series, I did an excited happy dance when I discovered there's a fourth volume featuring Wink as the heroine coming out in October. And yes, I'm actually pleased enough about that it got marked down on my book calendar so I don't forget.
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Reading Progress

June 24, 2012 – Shelved
Started Reading
July 2, 2012 – Shelved as: fantasy
July 2, 2012 – Shelved as: steampunk
July 2, 2012 – Finished Reading
November 26, 2012 – Shelved as: hollie

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