Recommend by: Riley
Question: What do you get if you combine a 19th century setting, forward thinking scientific ideas, and advanced steam and clockwork technology. Answer: Historical Science Fiction. Some people call it Steampunk, which is just one word and therefore easier to say.
I love reading Steampunk and finding a new talent in this genre is always fun. Cecilia Dominic’s Eros Element, which releases on August 25th, is the first book in her promising Steampunk series Aether Psychics.
Eros Element is about an eclectic group of people who take the Grand Tour in Europe as cover for their real mission: discover a way to stabilize aether in order to make it a usable source of power.
I made that sound simple, didn’t I. Of course it is a little more complicated than that. There are organizations that are in competition with our little group. There are other people that do not want them to succeed. And within the group, there are secrets. Many, many secrets.
There, that sounds more interesting. Especially the secrets part. I’d say more about the secrets, but then they would not be – secret.
So I’ll talk about the characters. Physicist Edward Bailey and archeologist Iris McTavish are the main characters. Iris is not an archeologist by schooling. But training at the side of her famous archeologist father Irvin McTavish has given her all the skills she needs to succeed in the mission. And she desperately needs to succeed. Although she has kept it a secret, her father recently passed away and left her with very little money. Edward is a renowned aetherist that has been working to harness the potential energy in aether. With no success so far. But, as Edward says “Science takes time.” Edward is not at all keen to leave his safe university lab and teatime schedule to venture out into the world, but the threat of an Aether department budget cut gets him motivated.
I loved watching both of these characters adapt to circumstances wildly different from the life they had previously known. Edward’s adaptation was rather awkward while Iris faced it head on. Both had eschewed involvement with the opposite sex for personal reasons. But when they find they have something in common, a lovely friendship emerges with the potential for more. A favorite scene in the book: Edward grabs Iris’ hand and races with her to the dirigible they will be taking to France. Both were so swept up in the excitement of flying that they temporarily forgot that what they did was terribly out of character.
There are several other great secondary characters in Eros Element. Johann Bledsoe, musician and Edward’s best friend. He has secrets. Marie, who takes on the role of maid to Iris, although she is much more than a maid. She has secrets. American Doctor Chadwick Radcliffe and Irishman Patrick O’Connell who joined the group when an accident resulted in the need for a doctor. You’ve probably guessed it. They have secrets too. Along with Iris and Edward, these four characters are all instrumental to the story of Eros Element. I did like that there was such a variety of characters to root for. Even if, at times, I wasn’t sure if I should be rooting for them.
Bad guys – every good book has them. One or more. In Eros Element, the most obvious bad guy is the cheating, sniveling, conniving Lord Jeremy Scott who wants to get his hands on everything that belongs to Irvin McTavish. Research, papers and his daughter. Scott’s badguyness emerges early in the story and is not subtle so I don’t think I am giving much away here. Someone needs to run him over with a steam coach – or something.
Parnaby Cobb is the American who financed the expedition. His motives do not appear to be black and white. So it is hard to tell how good or bad he is. And that makes him a little more interesting. There are others. The Clockmaker’s guild and the Pthagorians. Again, these group’s motives are unclear but they do tend to get in the way of our main group of heroines and heroes. Complications from the non-protagonist crowd added plenty of obstacles and adventures for our intrepid travelers.
There are so many things I liked about Eros Element both in the overall feel and in the small details. Here are a few details:
- Edward Bailey prefers his cream warmed, then put into the teacup, followed by the tea and a half cube of sugar.
- Johann Bledsoe saved Iris from a bad hair day because he just happened to have women’s hairpins in his pocket from the night before.
- Tuning forks.
- Clockwork spies.
- Steam coach and its name: Prancer 457.
- A young girl’s journal about earthworms.
- The unusual friendship between Iris and Marie.
If you read the book, you will find many more small and large details that add interest and structure to the overall story. The attention to detail gives Eros Element a sense of richness.
There is one problem with Eros Element. That is, although it does not end in a cliffhanger, I know there is more to the story. But I am going to have to wait to get it. If you can’t tell by now, I will put it plainly. Eros Element is highly recommended!