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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Book Review: Nightmare in Steam (Alliance of Silver and Steam #1) by Lexi Ostrow

Nightmare in Steam (Alliance of Silver and Steam #1)
by Lexi Ostrow
October 26, 2014
Eliza Kempe Dorley is always left in the background. As a female, being top inventor for the Alliance of Silver and Steam has as many draw backs as perks. She’s in charge of the creation of the many tools the Alliance uses in pursuit of the demons that run lose in the London Underground, which means without her, the demons would be harder to put down. It also means she misses all of the action and has never had the chance to really use any of her inventions. 
Lucius Cooley Willan is a Nightmare Demon with a penchant for gambling and sleeping with women he shouldn’t’t and it’s landed him in hot water. Now he spends his nights slinking in humans dreams and unleashing terrors so strong it kills them so he can capture their soul for his boss. But when he’s ordered to attack the group that hunts his kind he’s enthralled by the feisty inventor he comes upon.

Eliza’s victim to Lucius in a way no others have been, a sensual dream that she can’t shake when she wakes up. When he bumps into her at the trains she’s an addiction he can’t shake. When he outright disobeys the demon who controls him for some out of dreams interactions with the Eliza, it will be up to him to save her from the nightmare he’s put her in.
The novel unfolds in an alternate dimension of Victorian-type London where the clandestine organization Alliance of Silver and Steam works tirelessly to rid the world of demon-kind. Demons of all varieties, motives, and castes pepper the novel simultaneously attempting to elude the alliance and its ray-gun toting hunters while positioning for their domination. Designing those aforementioned ray guns is the intelligent Eliza Kempe Dorley, a woman living and working in a man’s world. As an inventor for the Alliance of Silver and Steam, Eliza fights to prove herself among her male colleagues. At 35, Eliza has been unlucky in love. Having never found true love, she chooses a career with the alliance over a marriage of convenience. Enter centuries-old nightmare demon and unlikely hero Lucius Cooley Willan. Lucius’s supernatural talents include the ability to enter the minds of others, generate dreams, and, should he wish, murder his prey within their own nightmares. However, Lucius’s rakish ways have secured his indentured servitude to Seraphina a fallen angel and mistress of the underworld. At Seraphina’s behest, Lucius is tasked with infiltrating the alliance and murdering its members, but when Lucius stumbles upon Eliza, he’s stopped dead in his tracks by insatiable lust and longing.
My thoughts
Nightmare in Steam marks my first reader foray into the steam punk subgenre of speculative fiction. Repression inherent in Victorian literature provides the perfect backdrop for both a secret supernatural war and a potentially explosive love affair. Fantastic inventions throughout the book powered by steam and mysterious, glowing angel crystals provide the sci-fi twist. And although the setting is characteristically Victorian, many of Ostrow’s creative touches hint at modernity; Eliza, for the time, is unabashedly in charge of her sexuality; she’s not a virgin and unapologetic for her sexual enjoyment. In addition, Eliza’s marginalization as a woman and Lucius’s ostracization as a lesser demon hint at themes of social injustice and prejudice.

Lucius is, refreshingly, not a typical alpha-male lead. He’s a weasely cad and almost beyond redemption. Although described as attractive, he isn’t physically dominating. What he lacks in brawn, he makes up for in cunning. And he’s talented. Very. Talented. Ostrow’s writing teems with sexual energy and is abundantly descriptive. Personally, I love the romance and nostalgia of steam engines, so a certain scene depicted in the private car of a train was intensely appealing. Eliza’s confidence and cleverness ensure her likeability opposite Lucius.

The finale of the book was somewhat drawn. The last 10 per cent of the book was a bit daunting and long after this reader was fairly certain of the outcome, there remained some superfluous description. Overall, however, it was an entertaining read. It’s the first full-length novel in the Alliance of Silver and Steam series and the author’s website details forthcoming installments I’m anxious to try. As for the world of steam punk, I think I may be hooked.

4 Sheep

Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:
Lexi Ostrow has been in love with the written word since second grade when her librarian started a writing club. Born in sunny southern California she's spent time in various places across the country and can't wait to settle down somewhere in the French Quarter when she's able too.

Lexi has been a writer ever since the second grade in some form or another. Getting her degree in creative writing and her master's in journalism she couldn't wait to get a chance to put her fantasies down on paper. Her debut novel, Torn Between Two Worlds is something that was simmering in her mind since middle school and she's so grateful to put it out into the literary world. From paranormal romance to thriller there isn't a genre she doesn't love to spend her time reading or writing.

Reading and writing are her first loves but her passion for shopping, love for yummy food and her love for all her many pets. She hopes to one day help other readers fall in love with writing as she did.

1 comment:

  1. I do enjoy some steampunk, but somehow, the combination steampunk and demons does nothing for me. Glad you enjoyed it.