Category: steampunk

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

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Terrific fantasy of court intrigue with dense and vivid world-building and clearly drawn characters. Eighteen-year-old Maia lives in exile, the Emperor of the Elflands’ unwanted fourth son. But when the Emperor and his other sons die suddenly, Maia is the new and deeply unprepared Emperor. Walking through the decisions and challenges he has to face makes for a fascinating view of his world, and gives us a growing respect for his character. His biracial heritage (Elf and Goblin) complicates his life, but makes for an even more interesting story. I’m so glad I read this, as I love inside politics and that sums this book in a nutshell. Highly recommended, and okay for ages 16 and up.

The Iron Thorn, by Caitlin Kittredge

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This YA novel is dystopian steampunk, and the early sections are so bleak and unremitting that I almost walked away from it. But once we get hints of resolution, of understanding, I picked up steam (heh) and powered through the book. The visionary world-building in this book is so detailed that it haunts you like a dreamscape, one filled with steam, and soot, and the monsters of the guttering dark. Our 15-year-old heroine, Aoife, has had a tough life already and she is looking down the gunsight of her family’s hereditary madness when she turns 16. So when her only brother mysteriously needs help, she is ready to provide it, even if it means her arrest. For older YAs and up who are ready to face the monsters.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass, by Jim Butcher

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What a joy to finish all 600-plus pages of Jim Butcher’s fantastic new book. It is non-stop steampunk action, from dogfights in the sky to fighting monsters miles above the ground to super-scary villains that are feared by their foes and allies alike. It has heroes and heroines to root for, including a brilliant yet disgraced airship captain, an imperious young woman, a highborn young man desperate to hide the beast inside him, a farm girl, and a self-satisfied cat. I hope Butcher will follow with a sequel – I can’t wait to read it. Highly recommended. And unlike Butcher’s Dresden novels, which are for adults, I’d recommend this for 16 and up.

Prudence, by Gail Carriger

A sequel series to the Parasol Protectorate, this one reads just fine as a stand-alone. Carriger’s signature mix of Austen-era whimsy, steampunk, and supernaturals is an absolute joy. Sample quote: They were “tucked away, partly hidden by overhanging trees. The great red, dotted balloon of the Custard poked up too high, slightly out of the trees in such a way as to look like a massive embarrassed mushroom.” Rue, captain of her very own dirigible, The Spotted Custard, makes a fantastic heroine: impetuous, adventurous, and oblivious to the genuine interest of the attractive young man who is flirting with her. Recommended for 16 and up, for Rue’s casual regard for love affairs.