A welcome return to the same world, and some of the same characters, of The Clockwork Dagger duology with two short stories and a novella in this slim volume.
The Deepest Poison opens the book with a story of Octavia Leander working as a matron in the war between Caskentia and the Wasters. The title is a play on words, for while part of the story concerns the medicians searching for the cause of a disease that is killing the soldiers, it is mainly about Miss Percival’s jealousy of the more talented young woman.
The first time I read The Deepest Poison I was disappointed it wasn’t written from Octavia’s point of view, but upon revisiting it, I have more appreciation for Miss Percival, and it was nice seeing into the head of a character who plays an important role in The Clockwork Crown.
This story casts light on an important aspect of human nature. It’s easy to understand the desire to be the best, and the bruising of the ego when someone better than you comes along. What I like especially about this story though, is that it tackles this truth from the point of view of faith. It’s easy to think that people of faith, who have strong belief in a higher power, are immune from such pettiness. This story perfectly describes how a good woman can resent another good woman because she has a better connection with the powers than her.
The novella, Wings of Sorrow and Bone, comes next as the meaty filling in this story sandwich. Set in Tamarania, it features Rivka and Tatiana, both who have appeared in The Clockwork Crown.
Now living in Tamarania with Mrs Stout, the story starts with Rivka attending a party at the house of chimera maker and owner of the mecha arena, Mr Cody. Feeling out of place at the luxurious affair, Rivka, and the equally bored Tatiana, go exploring and discover cages full of gremlins that are being harvested for the making of a new arena fighter.
Feeling an instant kinship with the creatures that share her harelip, and inspired by the kindness of Octavia Leander, Rivka sets out to help the tortured gremlins. Teaming up with Tatiana, who has her own plans, each young woman uses her strengths to bring about change in the attitudes of the people of Tamarania.
It’s not surprising that I love this novella so much. It concerns a self conscious young woman who cares for the vulnerable and wants to end animal cruelty. How does she go about it? Using intelligence, hard work and writing. It’s as if the author wrote this story just for me.
What is more, because of the excellent message of this novella, and the engaging way it is written, I think Wings of Sorrow and Bone should be compulsory reading on every school syllabus.
Finally there is the appropriately named Final Flight. Captain Hue, and his airship Argus, are commandeered once more, this time by the Caskentian army. Charged with a suicide mission to deploy an Atomic bomb like weapon on the Waste, what is a Captain to do?
There is something disappointing about this story. Perhaps it is because I knew the outcome from reading The Clockwork Crown, which eliminated much of the conflict. Maybe it is because it is difficult to be emotionally invested in the characters, given the format. Either way, it’s well written, and contains all the steampunk elements that make the books so special.
I award Deep Roots…
Deep Roots is available for $2.62 ebook and $4.99 print book on Amazon.
Buy Wings of Sorrow and Bone for $7.41 ebook on Amazon.
Buy The Deepest Poison for $4.03 ebook on Amazon.
Buy Final Flight for $4.03 ebook on Amazon.