It’s bad enough human journalist Jill Cooper has to witness her vampire lover Marius Dumont marry someone else in the name of political harmony, but worse is the virus that kills one of Crimson City’s vampires…and is having a radical affect on Marius, too. To obtain the cure, Jill must willingly infect another vampire, or win the race against time by studying the papers of a young inventor in 1850s London.
At first Jill is so desperate that she’s bloody annoying. Admittedly, she’s having a rough time but she acts like life without love is not worth living. That’s right, all the single ladies – put your hands up! But keep reading, because the rest of the book more than makes up for Jill’s melodrama.
Though set in an alternate (or even futuristic) Los Angeles, with all the royalty, corsets and whatnot it seems rather Victorian, so it’s not a shock to switch to 1850s England. In fact, the steampunk sub-plot is the most fascinating part of Crimson & Steam. There are clear parallels between Jill’s and Charlotte’s troubled relationships, but Charlie still has her dignity.
The Crystal Palace hosts the Great Exhibition that rose engineer Charlotte visits weekly. A tempest prognosticator seems innocent enough, but not even its creator could predict its dire consequences. I still have questions about the device and how it works, and Crimson City’s geography with its strata is bloody confusing, even though we’re told who goes where. More memorable, however, are the crafty mechs.
The government conspiracies, and political divisions between the vampires/humans/werewolves, may seem tired, but the science and steampunk are winners. Totally glom-worthy, Crimson & Steam gives one much to think about, and hope for future instalments. Add to this the mind-bending concepts of her futuristic novels, and Liz Maverick stands above other authors treading the well-worn paranormal path. Can’t wait for her next innovative novel!