Plot Type: Steampunk Romance
Ratings: Violence—4; Sensuality—4; Humor—3
Publisher and Titles: Pocket
"Three Gifts" (free on-line prequel story, 12/2013)
Disenchanted & Co. (novel, 1/2014; previously published in two separate e-novellas: "Her Ladyship's Curse" [8/2013] and "His Lordship Possessed" [10/2013])
"My Lord Mayhem" (free on-line story [pdf], 7/2013)
The Clockwork Wolf (novel, 2/2014)
Part 1 is necessary stuffed with world-building, and to make that less confusing, I recommend that you skim through the glossary before beginning your reading. Kit's sudden submission to Dredmore at the very end made me feel a bit squirmy. Here is this independent young woman who is determined to make her own way in a man's world, and she gives in to her primary nemesis with barely any resistance. That scene made me lose some of the respect I had built for her based on her words and actions in the earlier chapters. Click HERE to read an excerpt from the chapter 1 of Part 1. Click HERE to read a second excerpt from chapter 1.
The plot of Part 2 is exceedingly complicated, and it relies on the readers' knowledge of the complex mythology for the series. The new aspects of the world-building are unveiled quickly in this section as events more swiftly along to their final resolution. The relationship between Kit and Dredmore is a bit more palatable at this point, particularly after Kit learns some deeply personal information about his earlier life.
Viehl has created an inventive world here, with a complex and detailed mythology (thank heavens for the extensive glossary!) and a cast of quirky characters who add humor and depth to the plots. Unfortunately, the villains are one-note evildoers with no redeeming characteristics, so they are not very interesting. All in all, this is turning out to be another solid series for Viehl, and I'm looking forward to the next stories and novels. Click HERE to read an excerpt from the fourth chapter of Part 2, "His Lordship Possessed." Click HERE for a second excerpt, this time from the end of chapter 7 and the beginning of chapter 8.
This story is more of a romance than an urban fantasy, although the action plot is more important than is usual in a paranormal romance. Our first meeting with Laurana in the previous novel was quite brief, so it's nice to see her in a situation that provides more depth to her character. Many—but not all—of the twists and turns are relatively predictable, but that doesn't really spoil the story.
NOVEL 2: The Clockwork Wolf
When more and more wolfmen begin attacking people all over Rumsen—raping and biting the ladies and killing the men—Kit teams up with Dredmore and Chief Inspector Tommy Doyle, gathering clues and poking into dark magical corners. Then, Kit herself is attacked by two of the creatures, managing to get away only with assistance from her ghostly partner (and grandfather), Harry. The next time they attack her, one of the wolfmen bites her. Soon, it is evident that the wolfmen's master and creator is specifically targeting Kit and that he has a horrifying reason for having his monsters attack women. This novel continues the Aramanthan story line that began in Part 1 of Disenchanted & Co., but with several new magical twists.
World-building for the native population of Toriana was introduced in the first novel, but the natives were not part of the plot. In The Clockwork Wolfman, Viehl delves deeper into that mythology as several natives play key roles in the story. When a native shaman wearing a blue-feathered cape rescues Kit from yet another wolfman attack, she realizes that there is a direct connection between the wolfmen and the natives. In this alternative world, the natives live just as they did in the real 19th century: under relatively primitive conditions and with little tolerance from the white population, who regard them as savages. As the suspense builds and the attacks escalate, it's up to Kit to save the city by resolving the conflict between the wolfmen's master and the natives' chief shaman. In this novel, Kit suffers even more physical injuries than usual: she is bitten twice—by a wolfman and a mechanical rat, man-handled and/or beaten by several different assailants, and abducted first by the natives and then by the primary villain.
Meanwhile, Kit has another conflict to resolve—this time, a romantic one. Both Dredmore and Tommy Doyle are vying for her affections, and she has strong feelings (both lustful and loving) for both of them. Although both are asking for a permanent commitment, Kit isn't looking for marriage: "Not that I wanted a husband; they always expected wives to clean and cook and carry children. On the list of things I disliked immensely, those three ranked in the top ten." (chapter 3) Who will Kit choose—if she even deigns to make a choice?
This plot doesn't have as many twists and turns as the first novel, but it does have plenty of suspense and action. Unfortunately, that action results in many women suffering great harm at the hands of some villainous men, and that is always a turn-off for me. I'm looking forward to the next installment and hoping that Kit will maintain her independence and continue her fight for justice and equality in this male-centric world.
Two new developments will no doubt be turning up in subsequent stories: the fact that Kit discovers that she isn't the only spirit-born woman in Rumsen, and the shocking realization that some newborn babies are being born with strange genetic idiosyncrasies. Click HERE to read the first excerpt from that book. Click HERE to read the second.