Book Review: The Clockwork Witch by Michelle D. Sonnier

With a title like The Clockwork Witch, who needs a synopsis? You got clocks, you got witches, and you got a witch that fixes clocks. What else were you expecting? Michelle D Sonnier hits the nail on the head with this Victorian-Era Urban-fantasy about discovering the most counter-intuitive witch powers a teen girl could ask for.

Arabella Sortilege is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, born to the Grand Dame of the great Blackstone House under the auspices of a not so subtle prophecy. Except unlike all her sisters, she can’t seem to manifest any abilities. What’s a girl to do? Until she sneaks into a World’s Fair type of Exhibition and meets a certain Mister Westerfeld and his Distinction Engine (see while the women all go and do their witch thing, the mundane men compensate with motors and machines). Having been sequestered within her mother’s overprotective bubble, this first experience with machines awakens her gifts in what essentially amounts to the antithesis of natural witchcraft. Continue reading “Book Review: The Clockwork Witch by Michelle D. Sonnier” »

Book Review: Owl Dance by David Lee Summers

Owl Dance is by far the most authentically “western” feeling steampunk I’ve read in a while. It’s a self-described Weird Western set in 1876 New Mexico, the first in a series dubbed the Clockwork Legion by David Lee Summers that also includes Lightning Wolves and The Brazen Shark, each of which is already available on Amazon.

A surprisingly realistic Southwest cultural flavor pervades Owl Dance, and I felt these environmental details truly set it apart from the steampunk pack. Little things like Spanish words and Mexican lingo might be easy enough for a well-researched writer to fake, but Summers knows when and how to use them like a local and it makes a big difference. Geography and settings are so fully realized and natural, you could visit a lot of these places in real life, if you want to. This level of historicity is often lacking in a lot of fiction but Summers really succeeds in transporting you to a distinct time and place in American history.

Owl Dance uses an episodic chapter structure which I think keeps the novel accessible in its opening chapters before the overarching saga exposes itself. Plot developments that might otherwise seem mildly predictable are saved by expediency and culminate in satisfying mini-climaxes within each chapter. When the larger saga takes over, though, it draws from characters and developments throughout these early chapters, resulting in a truly cohesive novel rather than just a random collection of shorts. A good balance. Continue reading “Book Review: Owl Dance by David Lee Summers” »