Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Review of Dead Iron and My July Reading List

I was fortunate to receive an ARC of Devon Monk's first steampunk novel, Dead Iron, which releases today. It's just one of several new titles I'm excited about this month - check out the rest of my shopping list after the review. Here is the blurb:

Welcome to a new America that is built on blood, sweat, and gears...

In steam age America, men, monsters, machines, and magic battle for the same scrap of earth and sky. In this chaos, bounty hunter Cedar Hunt rides, cursed by lycanthropy and carrying the guilt of his brother's death. Then he's offered hope that his brother may yet survive. All he has to do is find the Holder: a powerful device created by mad devisers-and now in the hands of an ancient Strange who was banished to walk this Earth.

In a land shaped by magic, steam, and iron, where the only things a man can count on are his guns, gears, and grit, Cedar will have to depend on all three if he's going to save his brother and reclaim his soul once and for all...

Cedar Hunt is a cursed hero with a dark history who takes it upon himself to search for a missing child, despite his tense relationship with the community of Hallelujah, Oregon. With the help of three mountain-dwelling devisors, a witch on a mission for revenge, and a young woman with a mysterious past, Cedar searches for the boy and a cure for his lycanthropy. The book culminates in a showdown with Shard Lefel, a man exiled from his Strange homeland who seeks to remain immortal at all costs.

This novel has a lot going on. The Strange represents a bit of re-imagined fairy-lore, and is just the tip of the speculative iceberg, which includes witches, Pawnee gods, assorted robot-like matics, werewolves, clockwork spells, trains, Norse mythology, zombification, and inventive weaponry. These are things I generally enjoy in a story, but all together it becomes slightly convoluted. The blending of magical with technological is ultimately successful due to the believability of the novel's characters.

Monk gives valid purpose for the steampunk tropes she puts to use in this fascinating new world, including goggles used as gun-sights. There is also a touching love story swimming under the surface of the novel which is both really sweet and sort of creepy at the same time (an impressive combination). By the end, I was thoroughly attached to the book's gritty atmosphere and  characters. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

Also on my reading shelf for July:

Heartless by Gail Carriger - released June 28th
Hammered by Kevin Hearne - releases July 5th
The Affair of the Chalk Cliffs by James P. Blaylock and J.K. Potter - released June 30th
Echo Volume 6: The Last Day by Terry Moore - releases July 5th
The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer - releases July 12th

What are you reading this month?


Melanie said...

I was delighted to read, and am now re-reading, The Manual of Detection, by Jedediah Berry. Great name! Wonderful book. Still good the second time around when I know how it ends and what the mysteries are. There are wonderful details that I missed the first time around, that only show because I did make that first circuit.

As for my audio list, just finished Kingdom of Lies: Inspector Keen Dunliffe Series, by N. Lee Wood. I lived the detail of the novel and how the story unfolded, then unfolded again, then had another little fold at the end. Very satisfying. This is the first book in the series. Oh, and I know this is a mystery and not Spec Fic, but I realize that I love mysteries as my downtime reading. Good ones are always good for writing technique.

Ella Gray said...

Those sound great, Melanie! Good writing is good writing, no matter what the genre :-)

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