Victorian Addams Family? Yes, please!

Okay, I was just looking for something new to read, when I saw these two book covers and had to take a look. These are the first two (for there does seem to be more on the way. Charlotte E. English appears to be very prodigious) of the House of Werth series. The best way I can describe them is Victorian Addams Family. Yes, really.

The series revolves around Augusta “Gussie” Werth, as we’re introduced to her in Wyrde and Wayward. I have mentally pronounced that first word “weird” and not “word”, but I could be wrong. The Wyrde, in this case, is some sort of supernatural happening that occurs to people in general in this world, but to the Werth family more than most. And they embrace it lovingly, very much like the Addams Family.

Gussie, as we are introduced, is the only Werth in living memory to not get a Wyrde on her third birthday, when Werths traditionally get Wyrded. Examples of Wyrdes are her aunt who can control ice (and occasionally turns into an ice statue), her cousin who is a vampire who eats only rabbits (It just wouldn’t be done to savage the lovely, pale neck of some delicate lady) and her great, great uncle Sylvester who haunts a cathedral grotesque.

The action starts off when Gussie gets kidnapped by an old friend of her aunt (and, as per some sort of tradition with steampunk/Victorian writers, both of her parents are quite dead and her sister married off already) and whisked away to the sumptuous and slightly sinister Starminster, home of Lord Maundevyle (yes, the unmarried Lord Maundevyle) and his weird ass family. Much to his chagrin, because he had no idea that they had kidnapped the poor girl. They, too, are very Addams like, only they haven’t been Wyrded in ages.

Which brings us to why they kidnapped Gussie. Unbeknownest to her, she is not un-Wyrded. Her Wyrde is the bring on the Wyrde in those who have only a dormant Wyrde. Think of it kind of like Magneto’s contraption in X-Men, only without the unfortunate watery collapse. That being said, in the middle of a ball, she accidentally turns poor Lord Maundevyle into a dragon.

Surprised and not the least bit put out, Lord Maundevyle escapes, carrying Gussie away with him and to…a cave. Yes, I know, dragons, virgins and caves. All very cliche, but I think deliberately so here.

When Gussie figures out it was she who triggered the change, she grows very upset with her Aunt Werth, whom apparently long suspected Gussie’s hidden Wyrde, but never spoke to her about it. It takes a long time and an old family ritual, but eventually Lord Maundevyle learns to control his bedragoned state and switch between that and his human.

Book the second, Wyrde and Wicked follows closely on the heels of the first and concerns Gussie and her family (and the occasionally dragoned Lord Maundevyle) tracking some very demonic books, one of which belongs to her family. Shenanigans are rife on the ground, including dragon sized créme anglaise, raising the occasional dead family member and talk of engagements.

I can’t impress upon you enough: If you like steampunk/Victorian novels and the Addams Family, you will probably love this series. I’m still trying to make up my mind on whether or not I actually like the character of Gussie though. I feel she’s a bit of an idiot. There’s something to be said for dashing off where angels fear to tread, but it feels like she learns nothing at all.

That said, I will be reading the rest of the books when they’re released. I did so enjoy them. They’re quick reads too, so if you need something a little on the lighter side given the current atmosphere, I’d pick these up. Rating: B+. Not quite up to Gail Carriger’s humorous steampunk writing, but enjoyable all the same.

Custard and a spot of tea

Reticence

For those of you who have read Gail Carriger’s Custard Protocol series before, this is the final book in the series, Reticence. We rejoin the crew of the Spotted Custard just as Quesnel and Rue are getting hitched. Rue is, at this point, very pregnant. About ready to pop, in fact, and Primrose will not allow the Spotted Custard to lift off from London without an actual doctor on board.

The problem is, every doctor they’ve interviewed so far has come over very old fashioned, and the crew of the Spotted Custard are very much…not. Then comes the unlikely named Dr. Arsenic Ruthven. Keen followers of Ms. Carriger’s delightful steampunk series and their various novellas might at this point recognize that last name. Arsenic is the daughter of Preshea (from the Finishing School series) and the lovely Scottish investigator Mr. Ruthven. Naturally, a poisoner named her daughter after a poison. 🙂 That tickled my fancy.

Arsenic isn’t much like, nor does she much like, her mother. Classic case of mothers and daughters not getting along. Arsenic, in her case, went as far from her mother as possible and became a doctor (a very rare thing in Victorian times). And it just so happened that she not only impressed Prim and Rue, but managed to fluster Percy as well. Win-win as far as Rue is concerned.

So Dr. Ruthven joins the crew and they head off to Egypt to see Rue’s mother and father, who had retired there a few books ago when Lord Maccon started losing his marbles, as happens with very old alpha werewolves. After a spot of tea with the parents, they’re off to Japan. There is, apparently, a new species of supernatural afoot there that several parties are interested in. Not to mention a missing intelligencer.

Along the way, Percy finds himself sharing not only his cat (Footnote) with Dr. Ruthven, but his library of all things. Imagine! Upon arriving in Japan, they discovered to their delight, the floating city of Edo (Tokyo) – here called the Paper City. This was the only place, in this universe, that non-Japanese people were allowed.

By this time, Percy was quite set on wooing Dr. Ruthven, but was at a loss as to how. The floating city, however, had to take precedence, as did the sickness of the consort of the man who ran the city, Lord Ryuunosuke. The officials of the Paper City were particularly keen to have Dr. Ruthven consult because she was, after all, a she. Lord Ryuunosuke wouldn’t allow male doctors to see to his consort. Indeed, the officials seemed not to want to allow any man off the ship.

Seeing as how the Spotted Custard couldn’t afford to lose the dear doctor only a few scant months after her hiring, they had Percy pretend to be her husband and insist on accompanying her. Propriety being what it was, they agreed, which was just as well because Percy was one of two people on board who could actually speak Japanese. Even still, he’s not actually allowed in the same room as Lady Sakura.

Some fast talking from Dr.Ruthven manages to get Lady Sakura out of the silver infused room she’s in and over to the swoon room (such a great name) in the Spotted Custard. Unfortunately, things go awry shortly thereafter, as things are wont to do with Rue’s crew (Heh, Rue’s crew) and Percy and Dr. Ruthven fall out of the Custard and the Paper City straight down to Tokyo.

After a staggeringly messy and dangerous adventure on the ground, Percy and Dr. Ruthven are reunited with the Custard and are well on their way to wooing. Things in Tokyo will never be the same.

I love the inter-connectivity between Gail Carriger’s novels, and yet you could still read any one of them and get the feel of her universe. She’s one of my favorite authors and I can’t wait to get whatever novel, novella or short story she has out next. I highly recommend that you give her a read. And a follow! She’s on Twitter and she’ll often times post a lot of Victorian couture and food.

Rating: A+. Percy is one of my favorite characters, probably because I identify with his social awkwardness and bookishness.

Been a while

I realized, recently that it’s been a long, long time since I posted a review to my blog. I haven’t stopped reading, but life has kind of gotten in the way, as it tends to do. During the current climate, I’ve been working from home more often than not and I’ve decided that I’m going to get back into my reviews. I, for one, could use the distraction. Full review post to follow, but I thought I’d start with one of my favorite authors: Gail Carriger. If you’re still around after the inadvertent year long break…I thank you and hope you’re staying safe and healthy.

 

Kiss of Steel

Courtesy of goodreads.comBecause so many of my usual authors don’t have any new releases at the moment and I’ve ploughed through the ones that are new, I have been searching for new books to read and I stumbled upon a “steampunk” vampire novel called Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster.

At first, I was favorable to this story. It features a young woman, Honoria Todd, faced with the murder of her father (mother is…dead? I guess? Never mentioned so I assume childbirth after the youngest kid) leaving her and her younger brother and sister destitute. She tries to keep up appearances by getting a job teaching young ladies some sort of finishing school (I guess? Again, not really clear) while living in the Whitechapel area of London. History fans will note that this is where Jack the Ripper prowled in Victorian times. It’s a favorite go-to place of writers wanting to put their characters in dangerous situations (read: trope-tastic).

This Whitechapel, however is protected by what McMaster calls “blue-bloods” after the very old belief that nobility had that their blood was blue in color (peasants blood was red) and therefore they were more distinguished etc, etc, etc. And indeed only nobles and the king (Albert, I think?) are blue-bloods. Blue-bloods are vamps of a sort. They drink blood, are stronger, the usual vamp characteristics. However, in this world, vampires are what blue-bloods become after the virus that creates them completely overwhelms them (they even have viral counts to see how close they are-anyone seeing the not-so-subtle allusion to HIV?).

In particular, one blue-blood named Blade runs Whitechapel. He was accidentally turned into a blue-blood by one of the nobles after months of torture. The very same blue-blood that murdered Honoria’s father (duh-duh-DUUUUUUUUUUUUH!), though neither realize that until the end.

Honoria starts out promisingly strong in the face of what she has to deal with (a fairly useless sister and an infected brother). Then about halfway through we get the sex. And after that, it’s almost nothing but. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, I don’t mind sex scenes in books. Quite the opposite. But you don’t need to spend half the book having sex. The second half of the book had almost no plot, it was just porn. If that’s what you want, advertise it as erotica and not steampunk.

And speaking of steampunk, this was supposed to be and it failed. There are a handful of brief mentions of little toys the brother has that hit some steampunk buzz words but you get none of the fantastic imaginings of most steampunk authors. I haven’t been able to make a dent in Cherie Priest’s work but she does steampunk tech well. So does Gail Carriger and numerable others. Steampunk is Victorian sci-fi. There was no sci-fi in this book, just Victorian.

Honoria quickly backs out of all her ideals that she held so dear at the beginning of the book. She’s a damsel in distress waiting for the big, bad vamp to rescue her. And at some point, her father gave her some sort of vaccine against the virus that makes blue-bloods that makes her special? I have a question mark here because while the vaccine was mentioned a few times as the reason that her father was murdered, this little tid-bit of a working vaccine wasn’t mentioned until suddenly some half-brother was like “oh yeah, she was totally vaccinated”. What the actual fuck? That’s a HUGE plot point. You wouldn’t think to mention that earlier? Or at all?

I paid something like three-four bucks for this book. It was too much. I actually want my money back. It’s poorly thought out and has some massive plot holes. I only finished it because I hate to leave things half done, especially when it comes to books. Luckily, thanks to my favorite author, I’ve moved on to a triology by one of his favorites that is much, much more promising.

Bottom line, if you like steampunk, skip this. If you’re looking for a cheesy erotica story, have at it but that isn’t what I was looking for. I don’t like giving bad ratings or reviews if I can avoid it but I did not like this book. Rating: D.

And if anyone knows of some good steampunk, please, please, please let me know. I’m not into Cherie Priest and I’ve already read all of Gail Carriger’s books and Whitechapel Gods (did not really enjoy. Took a lot to finish that too).

Manners & Mutiny

Courtesy of gailcarriger.comI love Gail Carriger’s steampunk novels. Have I mentioned this? In particular, I like her Parasol Protectorate books and her Finishing School series. In her latest (and last) of the Finishing School novels, Manners & Mutiny, we follow protagonist Sephronia Temminnick as she tries to finish her final year at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s.

This book was released on Wednesday November 4, so I’m not going to go into too much detail. Just because I finished this book over the course of about three lunch hours doesn’t mean everyone did. But just in case I do spill something plotty, below be SPOILERS. You have been warned.

Sephronia and her friends, Dimity and Agatha, are given some increasingly complex tests as a part of their final year. And not just in classes. They have a ball with the all boys school Bunson’s on Swiffle-on-Exe, where Dimity’s brother Pillover and their friend Vieve (a girl masquerading as a boy) attend. And let’s not forget about Felix de Mersey, Sephronia’s other suitor (the first being sootie Soap).

Felix and Sephronia are at loggerheads due to his involvement of Soap dying and becoming a werewolf in the previous novel. Things do not get better here. Felix is the son of the Grand Gherkin of the Picklemen (aren’t these titles just fantastic?! They’re so silly. I love them), who shot soap and is generally a bad guy and the Picklemen are clearly up to something.

They break into Mademoiselle Geraldine’s after the ball but leave with nothing, vexing Sophronia who got into trouble with the teachers. She chased the Picklemen and got caught. They’re not upset about the former but they are upset about the latter. Sophronia gets saddled with all sorts of busy work that leave her no time to figure out what the Picklemen are up to.

To make matters a little worse, Soap keeps showing up attempting to court her. Sophronia, despite what her heart wants, is still a member of high society and a lady like her can’t be with the only black werewolf in England. It just isn’t done. And don’t blame me or Ms. Carriger for those words. That was the times in mid-1800s England.

Will Soap ever talk Sophronia around? What are the Picklemen up to? Why is Felix trying so hard to make up with Sophronia? And what is going on with Lord Akeldama (and really, we all wonder that)? Read to find out!

I enjoyed the hell out of this book. It makes me sad that it was the last in the series but obviously you can’t continue finishing school once you’ve properly finished and debuted. I’m hoping that we’ll continue to see more from this lovely world and lovely writer. I highly recommend this series and this book. Rating: A+

The Aeronaut’s Windlass

Courtesy of jim-butcher.comOne of my all time favorite authors wrote a steampunk story. I fan girled. I got to meet him and get an autographed copy of said book. I fan girled. Then I read the book…and I sighed. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass.

It isn’t what I would properly call steampunk. It had a lot of the same themes as steampunk: a highly stratified society, aeroships, aether, copper/brass doohickies. It was not clear whether this was some sort of alternate earth time line or some alternate planet. A no point were any recognizable human countries from the Victorian age mentioned.

All humans, and cats, live in these giant Borg cubes (and yes, that is straight from the horse’s mouth) called Spires. They are 10,000 feet high by two miles wide. Each level in the cube is 50 feet in height and referred to as a habble. The top habble occupied mostly by the top families, who are rather like the English nobility.

The main power source seems to be crystals rather than steam, which I thought was cool and not nearly as noisy. It doesn’t seem like women are at all treated like arm candy, which is pretty opposite of Victorian England, you must admit.

Cats can communicate, but only if the human is “smart” enough to realize that they’re talking. They’re also assholes but…so are real cats. There is also a caste (not really a caste system but the best word I can come up with at the moment) of humans called warriorborn. From what I can tell, they’re some sort of half-human, half-cat like creature as cats call them half-souls.

I think my favorite characters are the ethrealists, which are mad to a one. And by mad I mean Mad Hatter sort of mad.  They’re powerful but doofy. Master Ferus, one of the ethrealists, has a problem with door knobs. He can’t open them. It’s a nice little running gag.

Since the book only came out about a week or so ago, I’ll just give a brief overview. So possible SPOILERS here.

This book features five people other than the ethrealist Master Ferus: Captain Francis Madison Grimm (often called the grim captain by Ferus), Gwendolyn Lancaster of House Lancaster (who control the crystal vatteries in Spire Albion), her cousin Benedict Sorellin-Lancaster, Bridget Tagwynn (who speaks cat) and Folly (apprentice ethrealist).

Gwen and Bridget are new inductees into the Spirearch Guard of Spire Albion (there are several Spires, not just this one). The Spirearch is like the king and the guard are his, well, guard. They’re the police force and the fighting force  for the spire. Benedict has been a guard for two years already and is enjoying being one up on his cousin on the reg.

Grimm is the aeronaut with a bad past. He was drummed out of Fleet for cowardice, even though it clearly wasn’t him. He was the patsy. Still, he has his own ship, The Predator, no matter how badly damaged so he’s his own man.

Due to a surprise attack from Spire Aurora, our unlikely allies are gathered together by the Spirearch as the only people he can really trust. Mostly because they’ve all given them lip at some point, I think. At any rate, he has a mission for them to Habble Landing, where the majority of the Spire’s commerce takes place. Habble Landing, naturally enough, houses the docks and is the likely place for any further Auroran attacks.

The writing is good. If I didn’t know who had written it, I probably would have guessed Jim Butcher. But. It wasn’t what I would term a good steampunk novel. I would really classify this as just a fantasy novel. I think that’s where my disappointment stems from. I’ve read and enjoyed so much steampunk that I have an expectation of what it should be like, and this book isn’t it.

I would say that if you want to read this one, go into it thinking of it as a fantasy novel and not a steampunk novel. Don’t box yourself into a set of expectations. However, I would also say, wait until it comes down a little in price if you want to buy it. Rating: B-. I’ll probably read any follow up books, but I’m not sure if I’ll read this one again.

Prudence

Courtesy of goodreads.comI just finished Gail Carriger’s latest, Prudence. This is book one of the Custard Protocol series, which I assume will be a 4-5 book series like the Parasol Protectorate books and the Finishing School series. Because this is a very new novel, I won’t go into much detail here. All three series are interlinked, so it’s really fun to see where things come from or go.

This book follows Lady Prudence Akeldama, the adopted daughter of Lord Akeldama, rove vampire extraordinaire and biological daughter of Lord and Lady Maccon. She’s out in society, so probably about 18-19. Her best friend Primrose is the daughter of her mother’s best friend, Ivy Tunstall and she clearly has some sort of feeling for Madame LeFoux’s  son Quesnel.

This book follows the adventures of Prudence (called Rue) and her friends to India via the improbably ladybug colored dirigible, The Spotted Custard. This is a present from Lord Akeldama to Rue with the express intent of getting her out of London due to an unfortunate werewolf in bloomers incident at a society party and to get her to do some covert tea buying.

This is clearly the introductory story of her next story arc. There’s a lot of character building but I can’t quite decide of I’m supposed to like any of these character, particularly Rue. I feel she’s a bit spoiled and I can’t help but feel that I really, really want her taken down a serious peg or two.

There’s clearly supposed to be some sort of romantic build up between Rue and Quesnel, but…I just can’t seem to care. I think that’s far too tidy, considering Quesenl’s mother was in love with Rue’s mother. I don’t particularly like that Lady Alexia Maccon seems to have turned into every disapproving mother ever. She didn’t seem like that when Rue was little in the last Parasol Protectorate book.

I enjoyed reading the book. It had Gail Carriger’s distinctive style…but I think you could read the second book in this series (whenever it comes out) and still not really miss anything. It makes me want to read Soulless again. Rating: C+/B-

Crown & Key

Courtesy of goodreads.comSo I troll through Amazon Kindle books on the reg to see if I can find anything that catches my fancy, especially when I’m between novels on my favorite series (Dresden Files, any and all Simon R Green etc). I picked up this steampunk novel The Shadow Revolution: Crown & Key by Clay and Susan Griffith. I wasn’t really able to figure out in this book if magic and such was on the DL  or if it was well known but considered ‘suspect’ (i.e.-practitioners are thought of in the terms of gypsies and such were at that time, an unwanted peoples). It certain seemed that everyone that our main character, Simon Archer, met was aware of magic on some level. But this is a first novel, so I give a little leeway on the world building ambiguity.

So, Simon Archer is a mage. Not just any mage, but a scribe. Supposedly he is the last one. From what I’m able to gather, scribes work magic through writing down spells and then speaking an activating word. Simon has taken this a little further and tattooed useful spells on his body. Therefore, all he has to do is speak the activating word to do the spells. The problem with magic in this world though is that if you use too much, you get ‘aether drunk’ (seems like an uber high, giggly feeling as it’s described).

Simon is a playboy. The illegitimate son of a scribe in some sort of protective society that seems to have fallen apart, Simon has made himself a bit of a name in the social scene. It isn’t unusual to see him at a party, even if he isn’t invited. This sort of lifestyle is all well and good for him until an old friend gets murdered by a werewolf right in front of him. She’d been trying to ask him for help regarding said werewolf but she was just a bit too late.

To try and get a little revenge, he crashes a very high society party (Prime Minister high) to confront the werewolf, a Peer whose name I have forgotten. Simon confronts him, gets in a fight and is helped out by a Lady by the name of Kate Anstruther. A self professed Alchemist, Kate has no time for societal games. She is much too logical to be swayed by some idiot lord trying to get in her knickers. She’s only there because her younger sister Imogene is a society person and it isn’t proper for a young lady to go out alone.

This fight brings together Simon, Simon’s teacher Nick Barker, and Kate in a race to figure out not only what’s going on but to save Kate’s sister. Imogene falls for the wrong sort (natch, always the way these things go) and it leads to a host of trouble. Throw in a Scottish werewolf hunter, a tinkerer named Penny and an evil doctor and you have a nice little mix.

I quite enjoyed this book. I kept waiting for Kate to go all helpless damsel and it didn’t really happen. The only time she did get a little stereotypically weepy woman was when she was strapped down to a gurney and both she and her sister threatened with extreme bodily harm. I personally feel that is quite an acceptable circumstance for your strong female (or male) lead to have a bit of a breakdown. I’m still deciding if I want to move onto book 2 of this series but I think its definitely worth a read. Rating: B, solid but not outstanding. Also, they never really got to why it was subtitled “Crown & Key”…

Steampunk-ish: Red Hot Steele

Courtesy of goodreads.comSo this book Red Hot Steele by Alex Berg came up when I looked for a new steampunk novel  in Amazon. Only thing is…it isn’t really steampunk. Its more like…an Edwardian pulp mystery. Its a bit more Dashiell Hammet than Gail Carriger.  This is a first person novel told from the perspective of Detective Jake Daggers. Really. That’s his name. And he seems to be every stereotypical gumshoe rolled into one. He’s a large, misogynistic detective in New York that eats poorly, is divorced and not a good dad.

At least I think its New York. The world building in this book is almost non-existent. Magic/the supernatural seems to be known and somewhat accepted in this world, as evidenced by the fact that Detective Daggers’ new partner is a young female half-elf by the name of Shay Steele. Yes, really. Despite her name, she’s actually the most interesting character in the book. She supposedly has some supernatural talent for visions which lands her on the police force. As women are not police in this time/world, her visions are the only way she can gain detective status.

The story itself is a regular old murder/con double-header with a sprinkling of magic. It wasn’t really all that spectacular a story and I figured out the whodunit pretty quickly. It could have been an acceptable book if there were more world building but seriously, the most thought I felt was put into it was the fact that horses weren’t used in the city anymore because of all the droppings so therefore rickshaws were the mode of transportation for those who could afford such things. I thought that was an interesting concept but it was the only thing that put any sort of time-frame on this story.

There was none of the usual steampunk trappings of steam powered everything, gadgets, brass, and general sense of elegance. I was overall disappointed with this book and grateful I got it on sale for about 4 bucks. I don’t see myself getting the next book in the series. If you’re a fan of the old Sam Spade/Big Sleep style mysteries, this might be a good book for you. If you are more a steampunk person or an urban fantasy person, I’d stay away. There just isn’t enough of either genre in this to satisfy.  Rating: C-

Romulus Buckle

Photo Courtesy of Amazon.comI recently read through a new steampunk book called Romulus Buckler & the City of the Founders by Richard Preston Ellis Jr. Its a bit different than regular steampunk in that this appears to be a dystopian future steampunk, though I’m not entirely certain on that. Despite being more than half way through the follow up book, I’m really not certain how far in the future this is or even if it is future as compared to us. The timeline of this world is really uncertain, like the author thinks that 1) readers won’t care about that bit of detail or 2) the characters don’t really care about their own history.

The gist of this is that there was an invasion by Martians some unknown time ago. Yes, you read that right, Martians invaded earth. Its all very War of the Worlds. It made me think that maybe this world ending event of Martian invasion was meant to be that 1938 Orson Welles broadcast but again, it is really not clear. All that we learn is that the Martians brought with them these giant obelisk things (like bigger than the Empire State building it sounded like) that do something to interrupt all electricity in the world. Something else vague and unclear turned the world into a desolate, nuclear winter type world. Perhaps we’ll find out in a later book?

At any rate, we’re far enough in the future that Martians (and half Martians because these humanoid Martians can breed with humans) are integrated into society as it remains. The world is demarcated into territories of clans, each one of them specializing in something that makes living in this new terrible world possible. And they all jealously guard their secrets.

Our here, Romulus Buckle, is the eighteen year old adopted sun of the leader of the Crankshaft Clan. In this book, Romulus is on a mission to save his father, Balthazar Crankshaft, after he and a number of other clan leaders had been kidnapped by the Founders Clan. The Founders are the most mysterious clan of the lot. They don’t really deal or trade with anyone. They’re entirely self contained. So why they kidnapped these other clan leaders is uncertain.

Romulus leads a suicide mission into Founders territory to get his father back with the help of almost all of his adoptive siblings. Only those who are physically unable to serve aboard a zeppelin don’t make the trip with him. Things start going wrong from the get go, naturally. There are attempted boardings by pirates, attacks by weird animals that the Martians brought with them and Romulus himself goes overboard in the territory of a rival clan.

Luckily for Romulus (or should we say deus ex machina-y), this clan’s leader was also kidnapped. They agree to return Romulus to his ship if and only if he takes a contingent of their soldiers and rescues their leader. With nothing else for it, he agrees. Once aboard, they all sneak into the mysterious City of the Founders (hence our title). It turns out that his adoptive sister and chief engineer (whose name I’m blanking on) escaped from the city when she was very young and knows how to get in and out.

And because I’m in book two, naturally they make it through this harrowing and mysterious city, find their quarries and escape, though not entirely unharmed. We also learn that the Founders are up to something and are, most likely, trying to get the clans to fight amongst themselves.

I found this book to be a bit Scooby-Doo-y and full of tropes. All the women are in love with Romulus, the dashing airship captain. He, of course, is just too enamored of his ship to bother trying to marry though he does have a series of one night stands. He’s unnecessarily reckless and hot-headed and people are all like ‘oh that’s okay’ because he’s the clan golden boy. Its a bit ridiculous. Romulus has a mysterious background and a missing (presumed dead at this point) sister.

The Founders have mysterious and advanced weapons that no one else has access to or have even seen and yet our heroes get away and with relatively few and minor injuries. The important people all survive, Romulus is the hero of the hour and Crankshafts have two new allies from the rescued clan leaders they helped escape.

This book had so much potential that I was rather disappointed there wasn’t more world building. What was it in those Martian obelisks that disrupted electricity and continues to do so? Why does tea exist but not coffee? The both come from the same parts of the world. One would presume that if tea plants survived, coffee plants also survived. Why did the Martians come to Earth in the first place? Why did they bring these weird alien creatures with them? Is that what ended the world? There are so, so many questions and not enough answers. There aren’t really enough hints to let the reader do their own world building.

I’m honestly not sure why I’m even bothering with the second book other than the fact that it was cheap (I think it was one of those 2 dollar Kindle sales days) and that I hate to leave books unfinished once I’ve started them. I suppose I hope that it’ll get better but it doesn’t really seem like it. This book was an easy read but I found myself skimming at some parts because what the author chose to go into detail with wasn’t really what needed detail. All in all I’d say if you’re looking for something to kill time, pick this up, but if you’re looking for something good, give it a miss. Rating: D+/C-