Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Madame of Gravestone

Title: The Madame of Gravestone
Author: Misty Burke
Publisher: Summerhouse Publishing
Publisher URL:
ISBN: 978-1-936950-21-8
Genre: {M/F} Steampunk, Series
Rating: 3 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Rogue Satyr

Tripp Monroe is a photographer for a popular science magazine, covering the Kansas City Steampunk Convention. Tripp doesn’t think much of the fans of the genre, seeing nothing but ‘goggles and bad Victorian clothing’. He runs into the sponsor of the event, Professor Greggor, an eccentric scientist. Greggor insists that Tripp dresses more appropriately and loans him clothing. He also insists that instead of his digital camera, Tripp use a more authentic camera. Tripp thinks taking photographs with it is a good idea so takes him up on the offer. As he takes the camera, Greggor shows him a collection of private objects not on public display, telling Tripp the strange story that Greggor has actually visited a steampunk alternate timeline. A world where the North and the South fought a war of attrition to a standstill, leaving both countries wrecked. The West broke away from both becoming Westland, a monarchy with a tyrannical king. Tripp thinks Greggor is insane until he takes one more picture…

Tripp is hurled into Greggor’s alternate world. He lands on a flying town named Gravestone and meets Emma, the Madame of Gravestone, and its leader. Emma has Tripp imprisoned as a spy for the King, as Gravestone acts as a mobile base for Emma’s gang of Robin Hood-like outlaws. But Tripp has a trick or two up his own sleeve and soon is embroiled in Westland politics and intrigue. Tripp and Emma are attracted to each other as they follow along a twisted path of adventure; rife with zeppelins, clockwork horses, a clockwork army and an evil henchman of the King, who is half mechanical.

If The Madame of Gravestone, the first book in The Corset Chronicles, has a problem, it is that there is not enough of it. It is a story of only 51 pages and is stuffed to the brim. The complaint that ‘there is not enough’ unfortunately applies to nearly everything; the personality of the characters, their relationship, the plot, the fleshing out of the villains- even the intriguing world is given short shrift. Too much good stuff crammed into too small of a space. Nothing really has time to jell. I didn’t feel like I was emotionally attached to the main characters, and didn’t care for them as much as they deserved. The plot didn’t even start to take shape until 3/5ths through the book. The villains were little more than cardboard cutouts and the erotic parts of the story left me lacking.

Which is a shame. The Madame of Gravestone would have been an outstanding book, had it simply been given a chance to develop fully. It was a quick and easy read and fun. An afternoon or an evening by the fire would not feel wasted after this book was read. I felt there was a lot of potential to this story, but it left me wanting much more.

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