With books like Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan and Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel, steampunk has arrived in YA literature. (If you don’t know what steampunk is, you really need to do some research. It’s pretty cool.) The combinations of historical fiction, fantasy, romance, and science fiction make for some interesting, brilliant stories that engage the imagination. Many of these tales give readers the feel of stepping into a music box. It’s a magical world full alternate realities and sepia-toned dreams. My latest read, Corsets & Clockwork, is a collection of thirteen steampunk romances, and several of the authors featured in this anthology are among my favorites (particularly Kiersten White, aka The Funniest Woman Ever). This is a great book for those who would like an introduction into the steampunk world or for those who already love these types of books.
Most of the stories in this collection are the very definition of steampunk. They take place in the Victorian Era; there are automatons, clockwork, and steam-powered vessels; there are certain magical elements at work; and they provide alternate views of actual events. There are appearances by such notables as Napoleon, Calamity Jane, Jesse James, and Jack the Ripper. Some stories contain more interesting characters—a half-mermaid cannibal, an automaton playing Juliet in the theater, Siamese twins (and one of the twins has a vampire boyfriend), thieves, and lots of robots. It’s a good time.
Teen and adult readers, especially females, will find something to enjoy in this anthology. Were there some stories that were less than stellar? Absolutely. In fact, there was one—and I won’t say which one—that left me completely baffled. I still have no idea what was going on in that story. At the same time, there were a few stories that I think could have potential as novels if things were fleshed out a bit. Three of my favorites in this collection were Wild Magic by Ann Aguirre, The Clockwork Corset by Adrienne Kress, and Tick, Tick, Boom by Kiersten White—who made steampunk even better when she added some explosives.
If you’re interested in giving steampunk a try, I strongly urge to you check out Corsets & Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances edited by Trisha Telep. It’s a fantastic voyage, and you should really be along for the ride!