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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Best Steampunk Novels of 2012

     It's time once again to highlight the best steampunk fantasy novels that I read and reviewed during the previous 12 months. Here are my six picks for the Best Steampunk Novels of 2012. The level of steampunk in these books ranges from just a touch to a rich assortment of gadgets, goggles, gears, and clockwork.

     If you are new to the genre, steampunk is an alternate history, generally set in Victorian London, but it can take place at other times in the past (e.g., the Old West, the 1930s or 1940s). Steampunk is rooted in the writing of Jules Verne, Mary Shelley, and H. G. Wells. Although steampunk characters tend to stick with the social mores and mannerisms of their time period, women are generally very independent—at least the heroine is. The primary difference between a steampunk novel and an historic novel is the addition of steam-powered and/or gear-driven transportation (e.g., dirigibles) and weapons. In other words, all kinds of gears, goggles, and gadgets. Click HERE for more information on steampunk. 

     Authors are listed in alphabetical order, and each entry includes a quotation from my review. Click on a "pink link" to go directly to my review for any given book. Each review post includes a chronological list of titles in the series, an overview of the world-building, and reviews of the books to date.

     Click HERE to read my picks for the Top Ten Urban Fantasy Novels of 2012. Click HERE to read my picks for the Top Ten Paranormal Romance Novels of 2012.

Best Steampunk Novels of 2012  

>>Kate Cross’s Heart of Brass, the first novel in her CLOCKWORK AGENTS series, which is set in an alternate London world in which steam-driven devices proliferate and a growing number of human special agents are being modified with metal bones and internal organs. This story has a romance element, but it also has plenty of action and a strong supporting cast of interesting characters. In my review, I wrote, "The author does a great job of blending the steampunk aspects into the story line. Instead of overwhelming the plot...they support various aspects of the investigation and add interest to our view of the everyday lives of the characters."   

>>Delilah S. Dawson’s Wicked As They Come, the first novel in her BLUD series, which is set in the fantastical realm of Sang, which has similarities to 1800s London and which includes a variety of steam-driven oddities. This fantastically inventive world has two distinctly different groups of inhabitants: the Pinkies, who are normal humans, and the Blud, who have vampire-like characteristics. In my review, I wrote, "I love the world of Sang, with its furry, carnivorous bunnies and its quirky characters....Criminy is a terrific hero—sympathetic, but naughty; playful, but protective. He's a cross between Mr. Darcy and Captain Jack Sparrow."        

>>Rob Deborde’s Portlandtown: A Tale of the Oregon Wyldes, which is currently a stand-alone novel, but Deborde is working on a sequel. This series introduces the Wylde family of 1887 Portland, Oregon, as they deal with a zombie invasion led by the bloodthirsty Hanged Man. This is a spooky, interesting world that depicts a quirky frontier town with just a touch of steampunk. In my review, I wrote, "This is a terrific book with a fresh and inventive premise and wonderful characters, each with a dark back-story that the author reveals gradually, detail by detail, as the story lines advance and merge. Once you get started, this is definitely a can't-stop-reading kind of book, with compelling action and suspense building from the very first chapter."           

>>Susan & Clay Griffith’s The Kingmakers, the final novel in their VAMPIRE EMPIRE TRILOGY, which is set in an alternate world in which the vampires live in the northern latitudes and the humans live in the tropics. Although romance is a key element in this series, there’s plenty of bloodthirsty action to keep up the pace. In my review, I wrote, "In every book, characters must grapple with issues of morality, loyalty, and justice, and they consistently do it in interesting and compelling ways. The Griffiths have created a marvelous world in this trilogy, and I highly recommend it."        

>>Bec McMaster’s Kiss of Steel, the first novel in her LONDON STEAMPUNK series, in which the vampires (called Bluebloods) are elite members of the English aristocracy. This is a romance series, with each book following a couple to their HEA, but the compelling action plot and eccentric characters contribute dark and gritty depth to the story. In my review, I wrote, "The steampunk isn't overwhelming; there's just enough to flavor the story (e.g., steam carriages, robotic soldiers).The author tells a good story, and she threads the angst through the story lines in a skillful and graceful manner, for both the main and supporting characters."       

>>Devon Monk’s Tin Swift, the second novel in her AGE OF STEAM series, the second novel in her Old-West AGE OF STEAM series, which moves the series from the Pacific Northwest into air over the Rockies and then to Kansas. This series has some romance elements, but there’s lots of action and plenty of quirky characters in each book. In my review, I wrote, "For all you steampunk fans, there are plenty of goggles, gadgets, gears, and guns. The descriptions of the airships are fascinating in their fantastic detail, and the air battles are full of action and danger."      

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