Monday, 23 April 2012
'Hearts of Smoke and Steam' - Andrew P Mayer
Be warned, my review will contain spoilers from the first book.
Some time has passed since the ending of book one. Our young heroine, Sarah Stanton, has forsaken her father and left her rich comfortable life. The only reminders of her past is her Adventuress costume and Tom's mechanical heart. Her plans of repairing his heart, and hopefully bringing Tom back to life, has been put on hold. It was not until she could secure work and accommodation she could focus on finding someone to repair the heart again. If only Professor Derby was not such a genius, it proved harder than she thought to find someone who can even understand the purpose of the heart let alone repair it.
Sarah Stanton is quickly reminded of her past when the Bomb Lance attacks the ferry she is travelling on. The Adventuress is forced out of hiding to protect the innocent bystanders.
I was hoping Sarah Stanton would be more sure footed this time, in book one she could not even cross a room without stumbling. Unfortunately, nothing has changed here. If your protagonist is a woman, please don't write her to constantly fail, and have a man to rescue her. Actually, this is unfair, all the heroes are prone to fumbling and in need of assistance. It's almost a parody at times, which robs them of their credibility.
Hearts of Smoke and Steam still has an undeniable charm to it. The characters, and especially Sarah Stanton, makes up for her lack of ability with an abundance of will. The Paragons are all heroes doing the right thing, but for the wrong reasons, whereas Sarah Stanton, alone has the heart to do it for the right reasons.
The unfortunate demise of my favourite character, The Sleuth, in the first book is made up for by giving us more of the mysterious Anubis. This masked avenger, who has infiltrated the Children of Eschaton, reminds me more and more of Batman. Great to see more of him.
There is a lot more steam in Hearts of Smoke and Steam with the introduction of some new characters and gadgets. Andrew P Mayer does have an eye for detail with his steam-powered creations. A mechanical circus show, need I say more?
No beating about the bush, Hearts of Smoke and Steam clearly annoyed me, but it certainly was not a bad read. I had no problem finishing it, but I did expect more from Andrew P Mayer with his second Society of Steam novel. It delivered enough fun, answered and raised new questions about the setting, to make me stick around for the next part.
Hearts of Smoke and Steam weighs in at 340 pages, and is published by Pyr Books.