Book Review: The Queen of England: Grand Tour, by Courtney Brandt

There’s a surprising readability to be found in this wish fulfillment fantasy for any teen girl reader, or any reader really, who might vicariously want to be a teen a girl. Who is Queen. And wields Excalibur. And talks to unicorns sometimes. You probably already know if you’re capable of enjoying this type of classical Victorian steampunk romance fantasy or not. But just for the sake of a fair review, let’s break it down anyway.

Grand Tour is actually Book II in this series by Brandt available on Amazon (Book III is on the way), but I didn’t feel restrained in any way by missing Book I. Everything you might need to know is included within the text. The famous teen Queen Victoria—you know, from the Victorian era—was killed last time and replaced by… another teen queen, this time named Juliette. I don’t understand the merit of replacing one teen queen with another except to avoid all the historical research, but as far as I can tell Juliette is no different than how I’ve seen Victoria portrayed in any number of adaptations dealing with her youthful monarchy. Nonetheless, Juliette is descended from King Arthur so that’s why she carries Excalibur everywhere with her and occasionally talks to it. But that’s all backstory. What’s young Juliette up to this time? Under the guise of husband-hunting, she boards her airship on a tour across Europe to investigate the New World Order (a secret society that wants to rule England or Europe or something which may or may not be run by [SPOILER REDACTED]), but things go horribly wrong right from their first stop in France. This is our premise.

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Book Review: Esper Files by Egan Brass

Esper Files mixes the charm of your usual Victorian steampunk setting with the spectacle of a superhero popcorn flick and keeps the action pistons pumping throughout this first novel by Egan Brass.

Nathan and James are Espers with superpowers, feared and hated by the public at large, and when they aren’t bickering with one another like step-brothers, they’re getting into your usual fisticuffs around town with their less reputable counterparts and rescuing pubescent children who are only beginning to understand the changes they’re going through. Along with the requisite evil henchmen, they confront a villain named simply the Baron, a former associate of their enigmatic mentor known only as the Professor who runs an Institute for Espers to learn to control their powers. If this is starting to sound familiar, you aren’t the only one thinking this is just another X-Men knockoff set in set in a vaguely steampunk Victorian England. The only part that didn’t feel X-Men to me was the little girl they rescue after her unexpected expression of powers turns the entire scene into a block of ice, threatening to kill everyone. That’s straight out of Disney’s Frozen. Continue reading “Book Review: Esper Files by Egan Brass” »