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  • Brilliant blend of steampunk, sci-fi and fantasy.

    This inventive tale, an eclectic blend of science fiction, fantasy and steampunk, takes place in 1901, in the city of New Londinium. Dirigibles float through the air, and citizens travel through the streets of the city by hover machine, steam carriage or steam cab. The Council of Danaeus, a collective of highly-regarded scientists, seek to improve society through their inventions, especially those which make use of renewable and clean power. One of their most lauded designs is the Ripley Perpetual Steam Engine, invented by Doctor Parthena Ripley. The redoubtable Parthena and her younger sister Artemis charmed me from the start of the tale: both are strong independent women who remain loyal to each other, without a whiff of sibling rivalry. When Parthena, who captivates everyone she meets, dallies with the heart of young Viola, Artemis is there with sage advice and fond concern. Parthena lends support to her sister in equal measure. When Viola discovers that her brother has been the subject of an inhumane experiment, the novel moves into darker territory. Greed threatens to triumph over good and the tension ramps up, especially in the second half of the story. While the story mostly plays out within the realm of science fantasy, the novel is infused with the aesthetics of steampunk, aided by Karen Bayly’s precise turns of phrase, attention to detail, and aptitude for droll witticisms. An admirable debut.

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