Release date: 5/8/2014
Review by Kristal
Book Blurb: By day, Vivienne is Guinevere’s lady-in-waiting. By night, she’s Merlin’s secret apprentice, indulging in the new mechanical arts and science of alchemy. It’s a preferred distraction from Camelot’s gossipy nobility, roguish knights, and Lancelot’s athletic new squire, Marcus, who will follow in all knights’ footsteps by taking a rather inconvenient vow of chastity.
More than anything, Vivienne longs to escape Camelot for a future that wouldn’t include needlework or marriage to a boorish lord or dandy. But when King Arthur’s sorceress sister, Morgan le Fay, threatens Camelot, Vivienne must stay to help Merlin build a steam-powered weapon to defeat the dark magic machine Morgan will set upon the castle. Because if Camelot falls, Morgan would be that much closer to finding the elusive Holy Grail. Time is running out and Morgan draws near, and if Vivienne doesn’t have Merlin’s weapon ready soon, lives would pay the price, including that of Marcus, the only one fast enough to activate it on the battlefield.
Here’s what I thought: CAMELOT BURNING was my first venture into Steampunk and I rather liked the intriguing approach to a great legend that has been retold in as many ways as there are stars. Well, maybe not quite that many but it’s a lot.
The Arthurian Legends haunt me because Camelot doesn’t have a happy ending. I’m in constant search of a King Arthur tale that does. So, I eagerly snapped up CAMELOT BURNING, despite the foreshadowed name. I am, after all, an optimist when it comes to tragic legends.
CAMELOT BURNING isn’t about Arthur and Guinevere, or Lancelot. They are the secondary characters who set the stage in Vivienne’s coming of age within the Courts of Camelot. She’s intelligent, creative, and brave. And, she happens to be Merlin’s apprentice. How cool is that?
Awesome, if you ask me. I’ve always wanted to be a wizard’s apprentice.
Vivienne has a great character arc and her journey to true maturity is wrought with danger, defiance, determination, and falling in love. And Merlin, all tattooed, bald, sporting a goatee and whatnot, in my mind’s eye he looked like Phil Anselmo, former lead singer of Pantera. It was a little unsettling, at first. But, I quickly warmed to this new way of looking at the iconic wizard.
Some of the gadgets in the story stumped me as I had a hard time picturing them, and some of the terminology confused me. I chalk this up to my naiveté of all things Steampunk.
Told in first person from Vivienne’s point of view, there is a sense of urgency and immediacy to the story. Generally, I’m not a huge fan of first person. I’m nosy. I like to know what’s going on everywhere and what everyone is thinking. But, it works so well here that I didn’t miss the other characters’ points of view.
Although not the main thrust of this story, Vivienne does have a love interest—Marcus, and when he confesses how long he’s been in love with her, it was one of those “aawwhh” moments for me. It was sweet without choking me on saccharin.
The ending isn’t quite a happily ever after but it was satisfying in that you know, or at least have the expectation, one is coming in a sequel. At the conclusion, a battle-ravaged Camelot has lost her king, but Vivienne and Merlin’s invention had saved her people. SPOILER ALERT: Vivienne and Marcus must say good-bye as he departs on an important quest. However, Vivienne tells him that she will wait for his return. The foreboding tone is tempered with an optimistic hope. Even as Marcus rides off, Vivienne returns to catacombs below Merlin’s tower to begin work on an invention that will help Marcus obtain the Holy Grail and bring him home safely.
“I extend my viewer and watch my beloved ride off…My apron is on Merlin’s desk. I tie it around my waist and pick up the goggles made especially for me. With one glance at the burnt skeletons of Caldor and Terra, I smile at the possibilities, foregoing any mourning of what was. My heart pounds at the wonderment of what other secrets might exist in Camelot.
There’s only one way to find out.
I pull my goggles over my eyes and descend into the abyss.“
Genre: Steampunk Fantasy (Middle Grade and up)
Length: 384 pages
Book Format: Paperback
Publisher & Imprint: Flux
Blush Quotient: Ivory
SG rating: 4
Grab your copy: Amazon
Author Scoop: Visit Kathryn Rose at http://www.kathrynrose.com
Net Galley provided this book for an honest review. No other compensation was offered or received.