Wednesday, September 15, 2010
For Review: Here There Be Monsters, pub. 2010
Author: Meljean Brook
Source: Burning Up (anthology)
Publisher: The Berkley Publishing Group, Berkley Sensation
Genre(s): Steampunk, Paranormal Romance
From the back cover: "Meljean Brook launches a bold new steampunk series with Here There Be Monsters, as a desperate woman strikes a provocative - and terrifying - bargain to gain overseas passage"
Additional works/authors included in Burning Up:
Whisper of Sin by Nalini Singh
Blood and Roses by Angela Knight
Shifting Sea by Virginia Kantra
Has the brutal Horde returned to London?
After two terrible centuries of nightmarish suffering under the paralyzing devices of a faction known as the Horde - pirate captain Rhys Trahaearn succeeded in destroying the tower once used to control the nanoagents infecting every person in London.
Now, seven years later, beautiful, Blacksmith surgeon's assistant Ivy is awakened by strangers searching throughout her cheap boardinghouse, moving from room to room. Her quarters invaded, her thin body prodded and evaluated for purposes unknown. It is when Ivy discovers empty beds in rooms previously filled that she suspects the worst. For theirs, and her, only value had been that of workers, as slaves to the Horde.
Fearing an end to the freedom she has but recently known, Ivy has no option except to escape the gaslit streets of London, to put a sea's distance between herself and those who would wish to control her once again.
Enter an unlikely rescuer - Mad Machen, captain of the ship, Vesuvious and one-time member of Trahaearn's crew. Machen: gruff, intimidating, broad of chest. Dangerously handsome with overgrown dark hair and a thick scar around his neck.
What price must Ivy pay to secure safe passage on Vesuvious? Are her skills in the fashioning of mechanical flesh enough, or will Mad Machen demand that gift which a woman may give only once in a lifetime - her maidenhead?
My two cents: Must-Read.
Admittedly, I'm not a die-hard Steampunk reader. What little I'd previously read I could either take it or leave it.
I could quite easily become a die-hard Steampunk fan if there were more works of this high a calibre [hopefully there are, and I've merely yet to discover them!].
Meljean Brook immediately pulled me into her story with vivid images of spider rickshaws scurrying on the cobblestones, yellow fog-smothered docks, and fanciful automata such as egg-crackers, jumping frogs, singing birds and the fat squatting man 'money chest'.
Besides an engaging knack for description, Ms. Brook presents us with a cast of 3-dimensional characters. No matter how small their part, or large, we are left with the sense of having been in the company of living, breathing personalities:
Lady Yasmeen Corsair - Airship captain, a green eyed mercenary with a reputation for killing anyone who questioned her. Usually.
Mad Machen/Soft-hearted Eben - Which was the man he wanted to be? And did he have the luxury of choice?
Ivy - Once plagued by poverty and slavery, the only thing she'd ever truly owned was her heart. Was she about to lose that, too?
In conclusion, I want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Here There Be Monsters! I think I rather envied Ivy just a wee bit, minus fjords teeming with armor-plated megalodons, that is.