*Published August 8, 2016*
I am a sucker for a good steampunk novel, and this is definitely one of the better series as it actually uses steampunk technology, not just as decorations for Victorian era United Kingdom. So yeah, in the year of rereads and reading what I know I’ll enjoy, this is definitely one of those books!
London papers scream of dirigible attacks, kraken swarms, and lung-clogging, sulfurous fogs. But a rash of gypsy murders barely rates mention.
Lady Amanda is tired of having both her intelligence and her work dismissed.
After blackmailing her way into medical school, she catches the eye of her anatomy professor from the moment she walks into his lecture hall. Is he interested in her? Or only her invention–a clockwork spider that can spin artificial nerves?
Lord Thornton, a prominent neurobiologist, has been betrayed.
Secret government technology has been stolen from his laboratory, and a foreign spy is attempting to perfect it via a grisly procedure… using gypsies as test subjects. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a beautiful–and brilliant–new student, even if her spider could heal a deteriorating personal injury.
Until her device is stolen and used in the latest murder.
Lord Thornton has no option but to bring her into his laboratory as well as the investigation where they must fight their growing, yet forbidden, attraction. Bodies accumulate and fragile bonds are tested as they race across London, trying to catch the spy before it’s too late.
I love how much technology is actually highlighted as viable in this book series! We actually start out with our main protagonist as, essentially, a computer programmer on one of the smallest scales possible, only it’s all mechanical! I love it and I love this world we are set up in, I love Amanda and all that she is doing to ensure that her mechanical spider can one day help fix her brother’s broken spine, and I love that she is striving to ensure that she gets recognized for her intelligence in the medical world, and not just recognized as a very pretty lady that can pop babies once married.
Lord Thornton is also fascinating, having received an injury to his leg that nearly crippled him, and now requires that he take a drug that essentially takes away the pain of what happened, but once the drug loses all effectiveness, will eat away at his nerves and render him disabled. He is not only interested in keeping his leg in good working order to stay in the field if possible, but in the possibility of being healed by Amanda’s spider.
Things get off to the wrong foot though when the two meet, and their personalities clash in such a way as to render their ability to work together a bit off hinges. Yet, when Amanda’s spider goes missing and it looks like it’s being used in a series gruesome murders being performed on the local Roma (as stated in the books) population. Lord Thornton does finally acknowledge Amanda as more than just a girl seeking out a husband, and invites her to work with him and his team in order to track down the murderer and stop any more experiments.
I enjoy the chemistry between Lady Amanda and Lord Thornton, as well as how much they end up acknowledging that their initial assumptions of each other were wrong as the book progresses. I also love that Amanda is shown not to be a prodigy in creating her spider, as it continues not to work in certain aspects, and once she does have working prototype, there is still more trial and error to make sure it all works properly. And Lord Thornton is able to help her develop her spider to work smoother as well, making it a working machine.
There’s humanity in our characters, all of them have flaws, all of them are well-rounded, all of them make sense in that they are human people with realistic human flaws. I also like that due to the increase of actual steampunk technology and what that entails, that changes the environment of the London area as well. There are heavier, denser fogs; more particulates in the air from using coal for the steam-powered machinery; different technologies have been utilized in order to take advantage of steam-power. You can tell there was more thought that went into the actual technology of a steampunk era and I love it!
All in all, this is an excellent book, and I enjoyed reading about Amanda and Thornton as they race after the murderer and hope to find them in time to stop them from killing and using the spider again. If you’re looking for a steampunk book with mystery, intrigue, and actual use of steampunk technology, then the Elemental Steampunk Chronicles are for you.