Looking for some summer reading? I’ve got some suggestions for you.
I’ve been digging into three fantasy series, two of which are definitely steampunk and the third perhaps better classed as historical fantasy. All have strong female protagonists and at their core, mystery — both as the plotline and about the characters. Let’s start with the steampunk.
The Immortal Empire series by Kate Locke: This series is set in “modern” England with a highly revisionist history that allows Locke to wantonly mix elements of Victorian English culture with modern technology. So far I have read parts 1 and 2, God Save The Queen and The Queen is Dead. Part 3, Long Live The Queen, is due this fall. The entire series shares an underlying mystery, but each installment does resolve some elements, while (of course) introducing new ones. There’s a romance between the two principal characters plus goblins, vampires and werewolves, oh my. Some of whom are the good guys, and some not so much.
After I started the Locke series, Amazon kindly recommended The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow. The timeframe is Victorian, but a very different Victorian England than what we learned in our history books. Magic is very real, and computers are human. Literally. The protagonists Banner and Clare are brought together by circumstance to solve a mystery for the Queen of England. I enjoyed the book enough to purchase its sequel, The Red Plague Affair, but the storylines are unnecessarily convoluted in places, requiring a bit more “divine providence” than perhaps I would like. Although I suppose that is what magic is, so your mileage may vary.
The real discovery of the season is the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, also recommended by Amazon based on my previous purchases. The first novel A Discovery of Witches establishes our protagonists Diana Bishop, a reluctant witch and historian of science, and Matthew Clairmont, vampire scientist, with their story continuing in Shadow of Night. The first book moves very quickly to introduce the mystery as well as most of a large cast of characters while the pace of second is much much slower, and at times it seems to wander. I am hopeful that the author has a plan and some of the threads that seemed pointless in Shadow will actually bear fruit in the third book, which as yet does not have a title or release date.
My advice: Start with Harkness, then Locke, then Saintcrow.