- Ann Aguirre
- Jaclyn Dolamore
- Tessa Gratton
- Frewin Jones
- Caitlin Kittredge
- Adrienne Kress
- Lesley Livingston
- Dru Pagliassotti
- Dia Reeves
- Michael Scott
- Maria V. Snyder
- Tiffany Trent
- Kiersten White
- Why I read it: Steampunk, authors I love
- Disclosure: From my local library. Woot!
Dark, urban fantasies come to life in the newest collection of Steampunk stories, Corsets & Clockwork. Young heroes and heroines battle evils with the help of supernatural or super-technological powers, each individual story perfectly balancing historical and fantastical elements. Throw in epic romances that transcend time, and this trendy, engrossing anthology is sure to become another hit for the fast-growing Steampunk genre!
This collection features some of the hottest writers in the teen genre, including: Ann Aguirre, Jaclyn Dolamore, Tessa Gratton, Frewin Jones, Caitlin Kittredge, Adrienne Kress, Lesley Livingston, Dru Pagliassotti, Dia Reeves, Michael Scott, Maria V. Snyder, Tiffany Trent, and Kiersten White.
Judged by its cover: Awful. My parents asked me if it was a Harlequin romance. If anything calls for a quirky illustrated cover, it's a quirky steampunk anthology. PUBLISHERS, I AM IRKED.
Geek that I am, you have probably assumed all this time that I love steampunk. In this assumption you would be 100%. The problem? I am sadly undereducated. Beyond the already-classics like Philip Pullman's His Dark Material trilogy and Joss Whedon's TV show Firefly, I have yet to venture far into the steampunk genre. So I picked up this anthology in my library. What could possibly go wrong?
A lot, unfortunately. Despite a few standout stories, I was decidedly underwhelmed by this anthology, which felt more like an attempt to cash in on a trend than a genuine bringing-together of YA greats. I was especially disappointed considering the strength of the names of this anthology, many of whom I love when writing in novel-length but didn't enjoy in their short stories here. Still, standout stories by Dia Reeves, Jaclyn Dolamore, and Maria V. Snyder made it well worth picking up.
Of course, no anthology review would be complete without breaking it down story by story, so here goes:
"Rude Mechanicals" by Lesley Livingston: Cool concept, but an obnoxious narrator I couldn't relate to at all. Not for me.
"The Cannibal Fiend of Rotherhithe" by Frewin Jones: Slow to start, but exactly the sort of narrator and writing I like to see in steampunk. Gave me the chills! Liked it.
"Wild Magic" by Ann Aguirre: Again, cool concept, but a contrived romance and an ending I saw coming from a mile away. Meh.
"Deadwood" by Michael Scott: A witty and wonderful Wild West story I didn't want to end. Speaking of endings, the twist was fantastic! This should be a novel. Loved it.
"Code of Blood" by Dru Pagliassotti: One of the most fantastic worlds in the anthology, it reminded me a lot of City of Masks by Mary Hoffman. The writing didn't quite deliver (which was a recurring theme here), but it definitely made for fun reading. Liked it.
"The Clockwork Corset" by Adrienne Kress: Sweet, but too formulaic. It felt like the author looked up everything that should be in a steampunk romance and wrote it instead of following her story. Not for me.
"The Airship Gemini" by Jaclyn Dolamore: Such a brave and bizarre mix of breezy and creepy I couldn't help but love it. Loved it.
"Under Amber Skies" by Maria V. Snyder: I love the idea of a WWII steampunk. I also love how Snyder doesn't pull any punches, leaving me breathless by the end. Loved it.
"King of the Greenlight City" by Tessa Gratton: Another writer that doesn't pull any punches in an unusual world, but the writing was painfully stiff. Liked it.
"The Emperor's Man" by Tiffany Trent: Kept me guessing the whole way through with a fantastic world that reminded me, no joke, of Philip Pullman. It didn't quite capture me, but I think at this point that was more my disappointment in the anthology as a whole than a problem with the story itself. Liked it.
"Chickie Hill's Badass Ride" by Dia Reeves: Unsurprisingly, Reeves' '60s era steampunk Portero story is the best in the collection. If you loved Bleeding Violet and Slice of Cherry, Corsets and Clockwork is worth picking up for this story alone. Loved it.
"The Vast Machinery of Dreams" by Caitlin Kittredge: I saw what the writer was trying to do--steampunk Inception meets homicidal fairies--I just wish she had executed it a little better. Meh.
"Tick, Tick, Boom" by Kiersten White: So silly and flirty that I didn't really mind that I could see the end coming a mile off. This has definitely convinced me to try White's other work. Liked it.
Corsets and Clockwork is available now.