Yes, I’ve heard of steampunk and every time I wonder, “Just what does that mean?” So, I looked it up and I’m glad that I did. “Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology of aesthetic designs inspired by 19th century steam-powered machinery.” Thank you, Wikipedia. Armed with that knowledge, we begin.
Anna Lynn Boyd is the madam of the House of the Amber Doves, a very busy place. Anna likes a nice, clean bar, lots of rooms, and lots of girls with lots of business. She also likes Jonny, who doesn’t speak, but shows his constant devotion by fulfilling her every wish. One important aspect of the story: Anna and Jonny are a dynamic duo when it comes to automatons. They design and assemble robots known as Steelies, so named because of the metal in their make-up. She has become very wealthy by secretly designing bodyguards and guard dogs. They have moved one step further by designing equipment that enhances the brain, hoping to bring a dead person back to life. Even as they work to improve it, Anna questions just how ethical it is to raise the dead.
James Creed is a marshal well known for bringing in the worst of the worst outlaws. What no one wants to take on, Bodacious Creed is ready to attempt and succeed. He has come to Anna’s town of Santa Cruz chasing a vicious killer, Corwin Blake. As Creed hunts for Blake, he is surprised when the man shows up just to tease and draw him into a chase. Creed has never seen anything like Blake, who runs faster than any human. On top of that, the outlaw’s taunting laughter rings out in hopes of distracting Creed, and turns him into an easy target. Blake is visible one moment, and gone the next. Even though Blake slips through his fingers time and again, there is no giving up, and Creed wonders just how Blake could become this seemingly inhuman outlaw.
Creed has believed for years that he lost his wife and daughter in a house fire. Consequently, he is unaware that Anna is his daughter, while she has been waiting for the opportunity to find him. As she plots to meet Creed, he is busy pursuing Blake, unaware that he is being pursued, as well. To complicate matters, in walks bounty hunter Rob Cantrell, who can barely support his family. When he is offered a nice amount of money to murder Creed, he soon agrees, even though it shames him. Cantrell is well aware of the challenge Creed presents, but owning a Steelie dog makes him feel certain he can bring Creed down.
On one dark night, James Creed is shot and killed….or is he?
I was completely fascinated with the setting of this tale. On one side is the old west with the staple horses, guns, and dust, while on the other side there is the magic of industrialization, bringing with it automatons. These robots, which are much larger than humans, seem to be easily accepted. Anna has two in her bar, and even uses them as bodyguards when needed. Of course, the author did not write them as fearsome beings, but as helpers to their owners. Still, a huge, clanking thing that can run like the wind is a little unnerving. As for bringing the dead back, I found that to be a challenge to view as a good thing, and I was glad to see that Anna debated it too. There is quite a bit of consideration as to the difficulty of adjustment, should a person be brought back – would their personality be changed? Would they be changed physically? Would they be accepted by others? What would it do psychologically to the survivor? I would not think that a zombie story would make me ponder these things, but it certainly did. There is a lot of story here with tons of action, an intricate plot, and if you like steampunk or are just dipping your toes into the genre, this is a great book to read.
- Genre and general reading age – Steampunk. Older teens and adults will enjoy the depth of the story here.
- Level of sexuality – Anna and Jonny apparently have a very active love life, but it doesn’t drive the story. It is more setting the tone of the love they share, and I did not find it to be overly graphic.
- Is there graphic language? Some, but I’ve read much worse.
- Did I cry? No.
- Did I laugh? No.
- Is this part of a series? It sure is.
- Level of character development – The characters are well-done and never fail to enrich the story.
As you can tell, I found the book to be entertaining and thought-provoking, which was a pleasant surprise, but there it is, and since I find this to be a magical and unique world, I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.