Saturday, August 1, 2015

#Steampunk Saturday - Review - Storms of Lazarus by Karen Kincy (Adult)

Series: Shadows of Asphodel # 2
Format: E-Galley, 274 pages
Release Date: July 29, 2015
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Source: Publisher 
Genre: Science Fiction, Steampunk

Sometimes escape is impossible. Sometimes love isn’t enough. 

1913. Christmas Eve. Ardis hardly expects a quiet holiday with Wendel, between fleeing Constantinople and hiding from an ancient society of assassins. And they owe a debt to a certain archmage. 

In Königsberg, Prussia, they work with Konstantin on the next evolution of Project Lazarus. Wendel once called Königsberg home, the city now besieged by the Russians and their clockwork engines of war. This may be Wendel’s last chance to save his family and find redemption, but he’s tormented by nightmares and tempted by laudanum. 

Ardis fears her love isn’t enough to save Wendel. Her hands are full piloting the automatons, and she’s terrified to tell him a secret of her own. Will they—and their love—survive the storms of war?

Storms of Lazarus is the second installment in the Shadows of Asphodel series by author Karen Kincy. Things have moved ahead a bit since I read Shadows of Asphodel, the first book in the series. Ardis and Wendel are each dealing with the aftermath of what happened in Constantinople, and Wendel is having difficulty sleeping without nightmares. Fleeing across Europe, Ardis and Wendel reunites with Archmage Konstantin, who really needs Wendel's help in reviving Project Lazarus. But, that my friends, is just the tip of the iceberg, and you are warned to zip up your life jackets, because things are going to get bumpy!

You have to give Kincy a whole lot of credit. She doesn't let you languish in boredom, or wallow in self-pity because you want more romance, or more action, or more crazy clockwork creatures that are just mind blowing. Ardis and Wendel are arrested in Bulgaria thanks to a vampire; Wendel picks up a raven familiar he names Krampus on Christmas Day; a clockwork wasp attacks Ardis, and a clockwork dragon manages to bring down the Zeppelin that the gang, including Konstantin, is traveling in. Of course, let's not forget that the start of World War I is just over the horizon as the Russians are gearing up to invade Prussia, Wendel's former home. That means that Wendel has to face his ghosts when he returns home to Königsberg, Prussia to face his family who turned him out and disavowed him.

Storms of Lazarus is filled with sex scenes between Ardis and Wendel. There is even a glimpse of Ardis's future revealed, or spoiled as it were, before things are confirmed later in the book. I think Ardis is an entirely different character than she was in the first book. She's kind of careless in leaving her sword behind, and then letting the Archmages know of its existence. After a bit of a showdown with a clockwork dragon and clockwork wasps, our gang ends up meeting up with an American Zeppelin led by Nikola Tesla. This is why I like this series. I like that Kincy uses realistic historical figures to tell her story.

Tesla is the man. I sincerely mean that. Tesla was an inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. He was a man before his time, and in this book, his suggestions are key to Konstantin's fleet of automatons. The Town of Königsberg, Prussia really did exist. You can no longer find it on the map thanks to Communist Russia renaming it Kaliningrad. But, it's nice to see an author using early 20th century historical settings to tell her story with.

I had a hard time focusing on the story whenever Konstantin was around. He's all fidgety, and shy, and bashful around every man who he comes across, including a newly introduced Zeppelin Captain Himmel. Yes, that does include Wendel as well. Wendel kind of frustrates me at times. He claims he loves Ardis, yet he seems to have more and more people coming out of the woodwork tempting him back to his old ways.

If you are looking for diversity, you found it in this story. You have a half-Chinese, half-American heroine in Ardis. You have Wendel who could actually be bi-sexual with all the fuss and muss he's experienced with several men, and women. Of course, there's Konstantin who is definitely gay in a world where it's not tolerated all that much. This was a strange story with a strange ending. Not sure what is going to happen next. 

Will there be another book? Or, are we to presume that Ardis and Wendel's journey ends with them flying off to America? I emailed the publisher and author and requested an answer to my question. My contact says, yes, there will be another installment next year! There will also be a novella featuring Konstantin coming out in September. There are a whole lot of questions remaining. Will Ardis be happy with her situation? Will she be able to get rid of her fugitive label and reunite with her mother she hasn't seen in 3 years? What will happen to Wendel now that the Order knows that he is still alive? What is it about Ardis's sword that is so magical? 

*~I received this book for free from (Publisher) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.~*

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