Impromptu Review: Steam & Sorcery by Cindy Spencer Pape
I am not gonna lie, I squealed when I got the galley from Carina Press. I discovered Cindy Spencer Pape’s Motor City Series, and found her writing delightful. Her worldbuilding is immersive, her characters’ chemistry sizzles and her love scenes are hot.
Now, I read lots of paranormal, historical, urban fantasy and spec fic. I have only dabbled in steampunk, and it’s been mixed – some of it I loved, some left me meh. The thing that makes me meh on steampunk is when stories rely on it instead of building characters that you care about. I do not need or want to read text that fawns over the mechanics and how wonderful and marvelous they are. Your characters are living with them. C’mon, do you fawn over your smartphone? Pape does not fall into this trap. The characters treat them as part of their world, and it was a much more natural experience as a reader.
Steam & Sorcery never forgets that ultimately, it’s about the characters. Merrick, who opens the novel, is investigating for the Order. He is attacked by a large group of vampyres (scary ones, yay!) and a group of street children come to his rescue. Initially he reminded me of Mr. Darcy – he strives to remain aloof, but the plight of the children draws him in and they end up his wards. And then he is indeed of a governess.
Carolyn has a genteel background, but she has fallen on hard times, and she has had difficulties with other employers getting a little to handsy and trying to take liberties with her. For this reason, she’s inclined to refuse Merrick’s offer of employment, but again, the children win her over. Over the course of the book, you get to see Merrick soften, Carolyn open up despite her past, and they become a family. I don’t want to get too spoilery on the plot beyond that, because the book is such a pleasure to read.
In keeping with our new ratings system, I give Steam & Sorcery an 8 – I’d fight 8 rabid wolverines to keep the book. In fact, since the galley goes back, I’ve got it preordered as a keeper on my Nook. I look forward to picking up the novella Photographs & Phantoms in April.