Sunday, September 29, 2013

Steampunk Darcy by Monica Fairview

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Author
Read: September 11, 2013

William Darcy is obsessed with his ancestors. So much so that he intends to rebuild Pemberley (destroyed during the Uprising) stone by stone, and he wants to employ reconstruction expert Seraphene Grant to help him. Or does he? Seraphene wasn’t born yesterday. She can smell a rat, particularly when it stinks all the way up to her airship. She knows Darcy is hiding something. But with the Authorities after her and her other options dwindling by the moment, the temptation of genuine English tea and a gorgeous Steampunk gentleman are very difficult to resist. But what if Darcy’s mystery job courts nothing but trouble? What if Darcy is harboring a secret to kill for? When kiss comes to shove, will Darcy’s secret destroy Seraphene, or will it be her salvation? Join us on a romantic adventure like no other in this whimsical Pride and Prejudice-inspired tribute, featuring Wickham, Georgiana, dirigibles, funky fish, and swash-buckling pirates.

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Traditionally a combination of science fiction, fantasy and history, steampunk is a fascinating genre that allows authors a practically limitless degree of freedom. There are no concrete rules dictating what an author may or may not do which is why I wasn't exactly shocked to discover author Monica Fairview had used the genre to re-imagine Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

On the surface, Steampunk Darcy appeared to fall right up my alley of interest, but I must admit the final product left me somewhat underwhelmed. While I like the idea at the heart of this piece, I couldn't help feeling the adaptation lacked the depth of Austen's masterpiece as well as the detail I've come to expect when reading steampunk. 

Be it a modern adaptation such as Shannon Hale's Austenland or a period spin-off like Karen Aminadra's Charlotte, I open Austen inspired lit hoping for something that emulates the spirit of the original. Pride and Prejudice touched on arrogance, pretension, discrimination and partiality and while I don't expect modern authors to tackle the same subject matter, it is my hope that they approach their work with the intention of exploring some facet of human nature. I didn't see that here. Fairview took names and roles, twisted them around and presented a light romantic comedy and though I appreciate that this type of story works for some readers, I must admit it is a hard sell for me particularly.

Let's talk steampunk for a minute because it is more than a few clockwork gadgets and a skyline doted with streamlined airships and dirigibles. What draws readers to this genre is without doubt the atmosphere. The world these characters inhabit is an amalgamation of old and new, reality and fantasy. No two authors interpret it the same way which makes each new title an adventure in and of itself, but I personally feel the most successful writers are the ones who give life to their setting in the same manner they do their characters. I truly feel Fairview is on the right track with this piece, but I can't help feeling she didn't go far enough. I wanted to be wholly immersed in this imaginative world, but there just wasn't enough detail for me to get there. 

As stated, I liked the idea of this piece and applaud Fairview's creativity, but at the end of the day I think Steampunk Darcy is best suited to those readers who look for and appreciate lighter lit. A fun and amusing read in its own right, but one that might have difficulty alongside the works of Scott Westerfeld, Emma Jane Holloway and Felix J. Palma. 

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What price was too high to pay? Was he prepared to himself and everyone he loved those he had hired to help him - everyone, in short, on the ship - be killed to wipe out all evidence that the machine had ever existed? 
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1 comment:

Monica Fairview said...

Thank you for the review, Erin.

I'm glad you found it a fun and amusing read.