The prize for saving the world is having to do it all over again in this companion to the steampunk romance The Unnaturalists (2012).
Syrus, Vespa, Olivia and Bayne are trying to rebuild their empire after destroying the Creeping Waste. Empress Olivia rules her fractured people of humans and Elementals from a ramshackle warehouse, while her devoted admirer, the Tinker Syrus, tries unsuccessfully to repair it. The magic users Bayne and Vespa try to help, even as they dance around their own romantic tensions. New villains threaten the fragile peace. From within, they’re challenged by Bayne’s estranged, noble parents, who may well be ignoring Olivia’s edict and using myth distilled from murdered Elementals to power their engines. From without, an ancient and legendary evil threatens: Ximu, Queen of the Shadowspiders. In interleaved chapters told from Syrus’ present-tense, first-person perspective alternating with Vespa’s past-tense, third-person point of view, the adventure unfolds with jumpy pacing but luscious worldbuilding. Nineteenth-century science has become religion in this fairyland full of airships and clockwork beasties. There are clear missed opportunities here: “What in the name of Darwin and all his Apes” is the point of bringing in such a famous eccentric as Nikola Tesla—famous for a hatred of round objects and an obsession with the number three—if only to portray him just as a generic genius?
Rushed but lush, with a nice touch of Victorian post-humanism for an original twist. (Steampunk. 13-15)