The best steampunk books
A subgenre of speculative science fiction set in an anachronistic 19th century society, dealing with advanced technology in the altered past.
- Mortal Engines Quartet by Philip Reeve
Fever Crumb is a stunning, stand-alone prequel to Philip Reeve's brilliant science fantasy quartet. It is set many generations before the events of Mortal Engines, in whose dazzling world huge, predatory cities chase and devour each other. Now, London is a riot-torn, ruinous town, clinging to a devastated landscape and hiding an explosive secret. Is Fever, adopted daughter of Dr Crumb, the strange key that will unlock its dangerous mysteries?
"Though I’m still trying to figure out whether its Reeves amazingly detailed imagination or the headstrong Fever Crumb is responsible for it, this book has taken its place in the pinnacle. My favourite. For now. " Fantasy Book Review
- Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff
- The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
Brendan Doyle is a twentieth-century English professor who travels back to 1810 London to attend a lecture given by English romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This is a London filled with deformed clowns, organised beggar societies, insane homunculi and magic. When he is kidnapped by gypsies and consequently misses his return trip to 1983, the mild-mannered Doyle is forced to become a street-smart con man, escape artist, and swordsman in order to survive in the dark and treacherous London underworld. He defies bullets, black magic, murderous beggars, freezing waters, imprisonment in mutant-infested dungeons, poisoning, and even a plunge back to 1684. Coleridge himself and poet Lord Byron make appearances in the novel, which also features a poor tinkerer who creates genetic monsters and a werewolf that inhabits others' bodies when his latest becomes too hairy.
"After I was introduced to Tim Powers through his Cold War fantasy, Declare, I attempted to track down his earlier works at libraries and used bookstores. Several proved impossible to find. Among these was the novel that first made him famous: The Anubis Gates, so eventually I gave in and bought a new copy. Now, having read it, I understand the reason for its rarity: no one in their right mind would relinquish a copy of such a marvelous book!" Fantasy Book Review
- Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L Powell
In 1944, as waves of German ninjas parachute into Kent, Britain’s best hopes for victory lie with a Spitfire pilot codenamed ‘Ack-Ack Macaque’. The trouble is, Ack-Ack Macaque is a cynical, one-eyed, cigar-chomping monkey, and he’s starting to doubt everything, including his own existence. A century later, in a world where France and Great Britain merged in the late 1950s and nuclear-powered Zeppelins encircle the globe, ex-journalist Victoria Valois finds herself drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the man who butchered her husband and stole her electronic soul. Meanwhile, in Paris, after taking part in an illegal break-in at a research laboratory, the heir to the British throne goes on the run. And all the while, the doomsday clock ticks towards Armageddon.
"Ack-Ack Macaque shows just what is possible by combining new idea and creating a unique world and a set of characters, a monkey, who would have guessed! Gareth L. Powell will be an author to look out for." Jasper de Joode, Fantasy Book Review
- The City and the City by China Mieville
When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Besźel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined. Soon his work puts him and those he cares for in danger. Borlú must travel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own, across a border like no other. With shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984 , The City & The City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights.
"And yes, this is a great story. Mieville has delivered and lived up to the hype generated by his early work, in particular the Bas-Lag series. While this is a vastly different book to that epic series, there is no change in quality." Charlie White, Fantasy Book Review
- The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
The computer age has arrived a century ahead of time with Charles Babbage's perfection of his Analytical Engine. The Industrial Revolution, supercharged by the development of steam-driven cybernetic Engines, is in full and drastic swing. Great Britain, with her calculating-cannons, steam dreadnoughts, machine-guns and information technology, prepares to better the world's lot...
"This collaborative effort from William Gibson and Bruce Sterling (the only to date) is a prime example of the ‘Steampunk’ genre and a bold imaginative ‘alternate history’ novel. It is set in London in 1855 where the computer age has arrived a century ahead of time with the great steam-driven (Charles) Babbage Engines powering the Industrial Revolution. Thanks to this huge leap in technology Great Britain with her calculating-cannons, steam dreadnoughts, machine-guns and information technology bestrides the globe like an unopposed colossus." Fantasy Book Review
- Captain Nemo: The Fantastic Adventures of a Dark Genius by Kevin J Anderson
The young Verne and his best friend Andre Nemo stow away on a ship bound for the high seas, but Jules' father catches Jules and forces him to come home in total disgrace. Nemo goes on to have all the adventures, battling pirates, fighting sea monsters, being shipwrecked, ballooning across Africa etc. Jules eventually turns these real life tales of his friend into his popular novels.
"This hugely ambitious project takes the reader behind Jules Verne’s enigmatic, mysterious loner Captain Nemo (called Andre Nemo here). Anderson provides us with an exhilarating tale that spans a lifetime from childhood dreams and fantasies with friends Jules Verne (a masterstroke by Anderson) and Caroline Aronnax, to life on the high seas and adulthood." Fantasy Book Review
- The Scar by China Mieville
A colossal fantasy of incredible diversity and spellbinding imagination. A human cargo bound for servitude in exile... A pirate city hauled across the oceans... A hidden miracle about be revealed... These are the ingredients of an astonishing story. It is the story of a prisoner's journey. Of the search for the island of a forgotten people, for the most astonishing beast in the seas, and ultimately for a fabled place - a massive wound in reality, a source of unthinkable power and danger.
"The Scar was a total delight to read and really had me enthralled from page 1 to 578! The Bas-Lag universe that is just magnificent, and this, combined with his engrossing way of story-telling, really makes The Scar a must read. His genre “weird fiction” is just wonderful."
- In Dark Service by Stephen Hunt
Jacob Carnehan has settled down. He's living a comfortable, quiet life, obeying the law and minding his own business while raising his son Carter ... on those occasions when he isn't having to bail him out of one scrape or another. His days of adventure are - thankfully - long behind him. Carter Carnehan is going out of his mind with boredom. He's bored by his humdrum life, frustrated that his father won't live a little, and longs for the bright lights and excitement of anywhere-but-here. He's longing for an opportunity to escape, and test himself against whatever the world has to offer. Carter is going to get his opportunity. He's caught up in a village fight, kidnapped by slavers and, before he knows it, is swept to another land. A lowly slave, surrounded by technology he doesn't understand, his wish has come true: it's him vs. the world. He can try to escape, he can try to lead his fellow slaves, or he can accept the inevitable and try to make the most of the short, brutal existence remaining to him... unless Jacob gets to him first and, no matter the odds, he intends to. No one kidnaps his son and gets away with it - and if it come to it, he'll force Kings to help him on his way, he'll fight, steal, blackmail and betray his friends in the name of bringing Carter home. Wars will be started. Empires will fall. And the Carnehan family will be reunited, one way or another...
"Stephen Hunt has produced a well plotted and paced adventure that captures the imagination and entertains throughout. Despite its length, In Dark Service never sags or slows down. Told from many different perspectives, it avoids large info dumps and ciphers. There is a real immediacy and heightened sense of drama that sweeps the reader up." Daniel Cann, Fantasy Book Review
- Larklight Trilogy by Philip Reeve
Art and his family are invited on a fantastic free holiday to the exotic Asteroid Belt, in a remote part of space near Mars. Taking the train, they arrive to discover that nothing is quite as it seems - the hotel slips curiously back and forth through time, and the guests behave rather strangely too. What is behind these bizarre goings-on? It's up to Jack Havock, Art and his sister Myrtle (against her will) to get to the bottom of things. But the giant sand clams and man-eating starfish which roam freely nearby are nothing compared to the True Enemy, which is cunning, sinister, and almost unstoppable and may resemble a hat.
- A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Evil is most assuredly afoot - and Britain’s fate rests in the hands of an alluring renegade... and a librarian. These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences - the Crown’s clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling - will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest - and she’s prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the perilous fray. For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun - he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices - must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot - or see England fall to the Phoenix!
"The steampunk element is not to be missed, from lococycles to automatons, ornithopters and cyborgs with firearms hidden in prosthetics. A most shocking and electrifying ride through Victorian London." Fantasy Book Review
- Grandville Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot
In short this is a great read that will appeal to lovers of great graphic novels and stylish steampunk stories alike. By all accounts the series is going to run to five books, and if Bryan Talbot keeps the momentum going then they’ll be a ground breaking work.
- The Steampunk Adventurer's Guide by Thomas Willeford
The Steampunk Adventurer’s Guide is great fun and simply a really good idea. Willeford clearly loves his craft and with his story accompanied by artwork from Phil Foglio it is attractively packaged. Along with all of this, Willeford also manages a discussion on ‘What is Steampunk’ and an appendix of suggested reading, viewing, gaming, music and more.
- The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace. Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy's shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion - to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory. And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity's ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake.
"Up, up, the winds and mists call the Grimm and wildcats. Duty, freedom and protection of family, new and old calls, as War blazes and the few and dedicated will be required to preserve the many. Another great series for a master of the genre."
- Iron Council by China Mieville
It is a time of revolts and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and rioting on the streets at home are pushing the teeming metropolis to the brink. In the midst of this turmoil, a mysterious masked figure spurs strange rebellion, while treachery and violence incubate in unexpected places. In desperation, a small group of renegades escapes from the city and crosses strange and alien continents in the search for a lost hope, an undying legend. In the blood and violence of New Crobuzon's most dangerous hour, there are whispers. It is the time of the Iron Council.
"While not as complete in its grotesque beauty as Perdido Street Station, Iron Council is nevertheless a strange and wonderful story, though I do hope Mieville revisits Bas-Lag in the future, and perhaps gives some of his cast, and indeed the whole society of New Crobuzon, a little more by way of a future, since however it resolves, I can't deny that Mieville has created a world I care about populated by vivid characters; some of whom I have come to love."
- Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
While honeymooning in the Tower of Babel, Thomas Senlin loses his wife, Marya. The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel of the Silk Age. Immense as a mountain, the ancient Tower holds unnumbered ringdoms, warring and peaceful, stacked one on the other like the layers of a cake. It is a world of geniuses and tyrants, of airships and steam engines, of unusual animals and mysterious machines. Thomas Senlin, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, is drawn to the Tower by scientific curiosity and the grandiose promises of a guidebook. The luxurious Baths of the Tower seem an ideal destination for a honeymoon, but soon after arriving, Senlin loses Marya in the crowd. Senlin’s search for Marya carries him through madhouses, ballrooms, and burlesque theaters. He must survive betrayal, assassination, and the long guns of a flying fortress. But if he hopes to find his wife, he will have to do more than just survive. This quiet man of letters must become a man of action.
"An extraordinary debut that is well worthy of the hype. A beautifully written, highly engaging page-turning masterpiece where I was on Tom's side every step of the way. I'd read Arm of the Sphinx next if I could but as an #SPFBO judge, I'm currently busy trying to find some more gems like this."
- A Tale of Langdon St. Ives by James P Blaylock
It is the summer of 1883 and Professor Langdon St. Ives – brilliant but eccentric scientist and explorer – is at home in Aylesford with his family. However, a few miles to the north a steam launch has been taken by pirates above Egypt Bay; the crew murdered and pitched overboard. In Aylesford itself a grave is opened and possibly robbed of the skull. The suspected grave robber, the infamous Dr. Ignacio Narbondo, is an old nemesis of Langdon St. Ives. When Dr. Narbondo returns to kidnap his four-year-old son Eddie and then vanishes into the night, St. Ives and his factotum Hasbro race to London in pursuit...
"The Aylesford Skull is for me a piece of art. James P. Blaylock has created a truly magical story, where most authors who write steampunk go for a direction of a more bold and brash steampunk setting he takes on another route by writing a more or less common story but elevating it with hints of steampunk and a supernatural aspect into it. For me it is truly magnificent display of how to elevate a story to the next level. It is a great story fully accented by enough hints of steampunk and magic." Jasper de Joode, Fantasy Book Review
- The Mensch with No Name by Edward M Erdelac
My favourite Hasidic gunslinger, the Rider, is back. Sure the Rider is the only Hasidic gunslinger I know, but that certainly doesn’t take make him any less awesome or any less dangerous. In Merkabah Rider: The Mensch With No Name (I’m going to call it TMWNN from here on) Edward M. Erdelac gives us the next four episodes in the Rider’s quest to hunt down his blasphemous, scheming mentor, Adon. We start to learn more about Adon, what he has been up to, what schemes he has hatched, and that the consequences of failing to stop him may be disastrous for all the planes of existence. The Hour of Incursion is coming.
- The Shadow Conspiracy by Brenda Clough
1816, the year without a summer. A group of geniuses descended on Geneva and, in an attempt to save the body and mind of Lord Byron, perform dreadful and forbidden experiments that change history forever. The Shadow Conspiracy will appeal greatly to lovers of steampunk, science fiction and alternate history. Featuring very strong female characters (something that the BVC consistently encourages), brilliant ideas and thought-provoking subject matter, it is an anthology that I highly recommend. What really happened in the villa on Lake Geneva that long ago year without a summer, 1816? Read it and find out.
- Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld
The year is 1914 and Europe, armed with futuristic machines and biotechnology, is on the precipice of war. Prince Aleksandar is fleeing for his life, having discovered that his parents have been assassinated and he is now a target for the Clanker Powers, a group determined to take over the globe with their mechanical machinery. When he meets Deryn Sharpe, an orphan girl who has disguised herself as a boy so she can to join the British Air Service, they form an uneasy, but necessary, alliance. But the pair will soon discover that their emerging friendship will dramatically change their lives - and the entire course of the Great World War...
"I think this book has a solid all round appeal to most readers, with elements of imaginative fantasy, adventure, secret plots, fantastic creature creations, a feisty heroine and courageous hero. For readers wanting to explore the steam punk/ alt history fantasy genres this is a great book to start with, and fans of Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series should enjoy Leviathan and it’s sequels."
- The Falling Machine by Andrew P Mayer
The Falling Machine is the debut book written by Andrew P. Mayer and the first book in the Society of Steam series. I have always found steampunk a very interesting genre and when I found out that The Falling Machine combines two of my favourite elements; steampunk AND superheroes, I just had to read this book.
- A Wild West Tale by Mike Resnick
The year is 1881. The United States of America ends at the Mississippi River. Beyond lies the Indian nations, where the magic of powerful Medicine Men has halted the advance of the Americans east of the river. An American government desperate to expand its territory sends Thomas Alva Edison out West to the town of Tombstone, Arizona, on a mission to discover a scientific means of counteracting magic. Hired to protect this great genius, Wyatt Earp and his brothers. But there are plenty who would like to see the Earps and Edison dead. Riding to their aid are old friends Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson. Against them stand the Apache wizard Geronimo and the Clanton gang. Battle lines are drawn, and the Clanton gang, which has its own reasons for wanting Edison dead, sends for Johnny Ringo, the one man who might be Doc Holliday’s equal in a gunfight. But what shows up instead is The Thing That Was Once Johnny Ringo, returned from the dead and come to Tombstone looking for a fight.
"It should be said that The Buntline Special is a humorous take on an alternate Wild West and with this Mike Resnick has proved to be successful. The rewriting of the original events and characters produced a lively tale. This Wild Weird West invites for more exploration." Jasper de Joode, Fantasy Book Review
- The Weavers of Saramyr by Chris Wooding
An evil that comes from within the empire's centre, a sect of magicians close to the throne intent on killing any child born with magical powers. But now the empress has given birth to just such a child and revolution is brewing.
"I found this a superb fantasy novel, if a trifle lacking in depth occasionally as the author forced plot upon us at a speed that seemed to not give the full consideration and build up it deserved. Several potential earth shattering revelations were thrown in glibly which could have benefited from a few more chapters built around them. Still, it did not detract too much as characterisation and descriptive acumen wove a tightly narrated tale that promised much and delivered often. For this reader, at least, the Skein of Lament will be eagerly sought after."
- Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding
Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. An inveterate womaniser and rogue, he and his gang make a living on the wrong side of the law, avoiding the heavily armed flying frigates of the Coalition Navy. With their trio of ragged fighter craft, they run contraband, rob airships and generally make a nuisance of themselves. So a hot tip on a cargo freighter loaded with valuables seems like a great prospect for an easy heist and a fast buck. Until the heist goes wrong, and the freighter explodes. Suddenly Frey isn't just a nuisance anymore - he's public enemy number one, with the Coalition Navy on his tail and contractors hired to take him down. But Frey knows something they don't. That freighter was rigged to blow, and Frey has been framed to take the fall. If he wants to prove it, he's going to have to catch the real culprit. He must face liars and lovers, dogfights and gunfights, Dukes and daemons. It's going to take all his criminal talents to prove he's not the criminal they think he is...
"All in all a highly enjoyable and FUN read. It is light hearted and alongside Phillip Pullman’s superlative Dark Materials trilogy this is one of the best Steampunk novels out there. It is the beginning of a projected series by Wooding and these books also look to be stand-alone too. Well worth a read if you want fun and an exciting ride on the Vardia skies." Fantasy Book Review
- The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she's posted to an alternative London. Their mission - to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it's already been stolen. London's underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book. Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested - the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene's new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own. Soon, she's up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option - the nature of reality itself is at stake.
"The Invisible Library is a world I want to write in. I want the opportunity to play in this sandbox, to visit the Library and meet someone new, and to take them on adventures through this intricate and magical world of alternate Earths and mysterious interdimensional libraries. However, I will have to satisfy myself with Genevieve Cogman treating me to future stories in this world, and I would recommend that you give yourself that same opportunity."
- The Rise of the Automated Aristocrats by Mark Hodder
Sir Richard Francis Burton's expedition has returned from the future, bringing with it knowledge of technologies that must remain secret if history is to proceed as it should. However, when one of his colleagues turns rogue, the secret falls into the hands of the very people most likely to misuse it. Betrayed, Burton and Swinburne watch in horror as the Empire's elite employ the technology to secure their positions of privilege. When London's parks are transformed into concentration camps, artists and philosophers are declared enemies of the State, and propaganda proliferates, the king's agent finds himself on the wrong side of—the king! Can Burton and his band of hunted revolutionaries overthrow an apparently indestructible and immortal autocrat ... and if so, at what personal cost?
"This book provides a triumphant ending to the series. I remain hopeful that we will see the adventures of the unlikely heroes again in some form or another."
- Mainspring Universe by Jay Lake
Jay Lake's first trade novel is an astounding work of creation. Lake has envisioned a clockwork solar system, where the planets move in a vast system of gears around the lamp of the Sun. It is a universe where the hand of the Creator is visible to anyone who simply looks up into the sky, and sees the track of the heavens, the wheels of the Moon, and the great Equatorial gears of the Earth itself."Mainspring" is the story of a young clockmaker's apprentice, who is visited by the Archangel Gabriel. He is told that he must take the Key Perilous and rewind the Mainspring of the Earth. It is running down, and disaster to the planet will ensue if it's not rewound. From innocence and ignorance to power and self-knowledge, the young man will make the long and perilous journey to the South Polar Axis, to fulfil the commandment of his God.
"Mainspring has a marvellous and highly original world, and the story was great to read. Lake has a good writing style that really involve you in the novel. An original blend of science fiction and fantasy set in an alternate 19th century Earth." Jasper de Joode, Fantasy Book Review
- The Good, the Bad and the Infernal by Guy Adams
One day every hundred years, a town appears, its location and character different every time. It is home to the greatest miracle a man could imagine: a doorway to Heaven itself. The town’s name is Wormwood, and it is due to appear on the 21st September 1889, somewhere in the American Midwest. There are many who hope to be there: traveling preacher obeisance Hicks and his simple messiah, Soldier Joe; Henry and Harmonium Jones and their freak show pack of outlaws; the Brothers of the order of Ruth and their sponsor Lord Forset (inventor of the Forset thunderpack and other incendiary modes of personal transport); and finally, an aging gunslinger with a dark history. They will face dangers both strange and terrible: monstrous animals, predatory towns, armies of mechanical natives, and other things besides. Wormwood defends its secrets, and only the brave and resourceful will survive...
"With freak weather turning on people, weariness, mistrust, people hiding from their pasts you know something big is going to happen... Sadly it all ends on a cliff-hanger. This does manage to set things up nicely for the next instalment. I thoroughly enjoyed a fantasy novel that was brave enough to tackle the Western genre, and from what I have read so far, this is a series that has much promise."
- The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man by Mark Hodder
A clockwork man is abandoned in Trafalgar Square. A ghost displays a craving for diamonds. A lost aristocrat returns ten years after being lost at sea and instigates riots in London. The Rakes are indulging in seances. The Technologists are growing giant insects and transforming them into steam-driven vehicles. The British Empire's capital is in chaos, and in the midst of it all, Sir Richard Francis Burton and his wayward assistant, Algernon Swinburne, are beginning to suspect that someone, somewhere, is up to no good!
"Hodder’s second novel in this series is certainly a page tuner, I would never normally rush to read a Steampunk style story but I am certainly now a convert and look forward to moving on to Hodder’s next book in the series. I hope the sequel comes up trumps and features more tame swans as transportation, centipede buses and clockwork men."
- Sea of Ghosts by Alan Campbell
When the last of the Gravediggers, an elite imperial infiltration unit, are disbanded and hunted down by the emperor they once served, munitions expert Colonel Thomas Granger takes refuge in the unlikeliest of places. He becomes a jailer in Ethugra – a prison city of poison-flooded streets and gaols in which a million enemies of the empire are held captive. But when Granger takes possession of two new prisoners, he realises that he can’t escape his past so readily. Ianthe is a young girl with an extraordinary psychic talent. A gift that makes her unique in a world held to ransom by the powerful Haurstaf – the sisterhood of telepaths who are all that stand between the Empire and the threat of the Unmer, the powerful civilization of entropic sorcerers and dragon-mounted warriors. In this war-torn land, she promises to make Granger an extremely wealthy man, if he can only keep her safe from harm. This is what Granger is best at. But when other factions learn about Ianthe's unique ability, even Granger's skills of warfare are tested to their limits. While, Ianthe struggles to control the powers that are growing in ways no-one thought were possible. Another threat is surfacing: out there, beyond the bitter seas, an old and familiar enemy is rising – one who, if not stopped, will drown the world and all of humanity with it... I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. I enjoyed his first series of books although I personally thought that the series slightly struggled to live up to the heights reached the first book. By the time I had finished this book I was excited, delighted and slightly disappointed in equal measure.
"I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. I enjoyed his first series of books although I personally thought that the series slightly struggled to live up to the heights reached the first book. By the time I had finished this book I was excited, delighted and slightly disappointed in equal measure."
- It Takes a Thief to Catch a Sunrise by Rob J Hayes
It all moves quickly, with a few twists, lots of humour and dangerous problems to navigate. The steampunk technology is exciting and seamlessly fits the story. Interestingly, the background and world this is set in has a distinctly French feel to it, which is a pleasant change. I particularly enjoyed Isabel and Jacques’ attempts to fool the aristocracy. There are chases, duels, romance, airships and a fortune to be won or lost. With this effort Hayes has proved he is a fantasy author to look out for.
- Like Clockwork by Damien Love
As the serialisation beings we meet 12-year-old schoolboy Alex who, just before Christmas, receives an old toy robot from his globe-trotting grandfather. It doesn't seem anything unusual but when the old man himself arrives just in time to save him from an attack by sinister little robots Alex begins to realise there's something different, possibly deadly, about his latest acquisition. Fleeing across a snowy Europe, Alex and his grandfather are pursued by assassins both human and mechanical. What is it about the old toy that makes them targets for murder..?
"I would recommend Like Clockwork to those who like their books to be atmospheric, gripping and full of robots and adventure. It treats the reader like an adult regardless of their age and will thrill and chill with equal measure. There have been many books written in recent times that look to address imbalances in literature, often in regards to female characters, and this book does something similar in that takes a member of the older-generation, so often dealt a broad brush-stroke, and allows him to be an exciting and dynamic character, clever, brave and resourceful. It made for a pleasant change from the norm." Floresiensis
- Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
With Phoenix Rising, Phillipa Ballantine and Tee Morris have created a great addition to the growing steampunk genre and have given a new take on fighting crime. For me, the authors demonstrated a good grasp of the steampunk theme, although centering this story more around the characters rather than the setting meant that a true Victorian setting was not exactly represented. The focus on Eliza and Wellington allowed for funny and witty dialogue and action sequences, often leading to explosive conclusions. Lets see what the sequel has to offer.
"However, I didn’t love it, and maybe it is the very signifiers of steampunk which make it so predictable. There are airships mentioned, there’s an analytical engine, there’s a scene in the Crystal Palace, there’s an evil mastermind building steam automatons in his lair. I wasn’t surprised by anything in this novel, and with such a focus on action there isn’t any building of tension or particular atmosphere. If you have played Dishonored, that is the kind of darkness I’m looking for. This was far more flashy, but a fun read nonetheless."
- The Revenant Express by George Mann
Sir Maurice Newbury is bereft as his trusty assistant Veronica Hobbes lies dying with a wounded heart. Newbury and Veronica's sister Amelia must take a sleeper train across Europe to St. Petersberg to claim a clockwork heart that Newbury has commissioned from Faberge to save Veronica from a life trapped in limbo.
No sooner do they take off then sinister goings-on start to plague the train, and it is discovered that an old villain, thought dead, is also on board and seeking revenge. Can Newbury and Amelia defeat him and get the clockwork organ back to the Fixer in time to save Veronica? And can they do so without Newbury going so far into the dark side of occult magic that he can never return?
Meanwhile, Sir Charles Bainbridge is the only one of their team left in London to struggle with a case involving a series of horrific crimes. Someone is kidnapping prominent men and infecting them with the Revenant plague, leaving them chained in various locations around the city. But why?
It's a rousing chase to save both London and Veronica. Will these brave detectives be up to the task?
"If readers weren't convinced we were reading some of the most interesting steampunk fiction around, they should be now."
- Empire State by Adam Christopher
Empire State is a book starts off by promising the world but ends up delivering the shell of a parallel bubble.. Christopher does so many things right in this book, but the issues with plotting during the second half of the book stick out like a sore thumb. Despite the issues, Empire State shows off a world full of potential, and clearly demonstrates that Christopher is a talented author who is sure to become a real force in the future. It was a lot of fun to read, you should give it try, and I will definitely be checking out his next release.
- The Converted by CR Hindmarsh
With his patients dead and his genetic research in tatters, Dr. Anton Springmann fled his homeland as a fugitive, taking a one-way diesel ship to New Alania. But within hours of his arrival, screams ring through the night. Hordes of gray, humanoid creatures--devils, to the townspeople--attack Anton's new home. Among the dead, Anton finds a single survivor: a young girl, Elisa Pierce. Her skin grows cracked and she begins to mutate. She's becoming a devil. Anton's seen it before. Tormented by past sins, Anton struggles to save Elisa before the change takes her completely. But old enemies have pursued him across the seas, and now Anton is being hunted by more than just devils. Redemption doesn't come cheap in New Alania.
"The Converted has all the hallmarks I have come to expect from a debut novel. It has a deep story set in an intricately described world with a broad spectrum of unique characters, but it just seems to be missing something, that little bit of polish that turns a good story into a fantastically immersive story. This is a story that starts out a little slow and rocky but gets much better the further you get into it. Similar to what I said in my review of The Passage, I implore you to keep reading The Converted because there is a complex story in there with a bunch of different threads and a pay-off that is well worth it." Fantasy Book Review
- Merkabah Rider by Edward M Erdelac
The last of an ancient order of Jewish mystics capable of extraplanar travel, The Merkabah Rider roams a demon haunted American West in search of his renegade teacher. But as the trail grows fresher, shadows gather, and The Hour Of The Incursion draws near... Four novella episodes in one book. This ain't your grandpappy's old west.
"Reviewing books for FBR has given me the opportunity to read books that I normally wouldn't, and to be honest I never thought that I would be reading fantasy stories about a Jewish mystic chasing down his former mentor in the Wild West. While the "Weird Western" genre was somewhat popularised a number of years ago by Robert E. Howard, the genre has remained largely untapped, but with the incorporation of Jewish religion into Wild West culture, Ed Erdelac has created a story that is fresh, original, and fun to read." Fantasy Book Review
- The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. Magic is dangerous - but love is more dangerous still. When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.
"Ultimately Clare has delivered a solid, fantasy novel and one that deserves to be read outside of the usual crowd that will be attracted to it by its clever marketing." Charlie White, Fantasy Book Review
- Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Arashitoras are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shõgun, they fear that their lives are over – everyone knows what happens to those who fail the Lord of the Shima Isles. But the mission proves less impossible and more deadly than anyone expects. Soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled arashitora for company. Although she can hear his thoughts, and saved his life, all she knows for certain is he'd rather see her dead than help her. Yet trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and the beast soon discover a bond that neither of them expected. Meanwhile, the country around them verges on collapse. A toxic fuel is choking the land, the machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure, and the Shõgun cares for nothing but his own dominion. Authority has always made Yukiko, but her world changes when she meets Kin, a young man with secrets, and the rebel Kagé cabal. She learns the horrifying extent of the Shõgun's crimes, both against her country and her family. Returning to the city, Yukiko is determined to make the Shõgun pay – but what can one girl and a flightless arashitora do against the might of an empire?
"Overall however Stormdancer is a fun and entertaining debut that presents an imaginative, dystopian setting and which promises many more exciting adventures for Yukiko and Buruu."
- Grandville by Bryan Talbot
Two hundred years ago, Britain lost the Napoleonic War and fell under the thumb of French domination. Gaining independence after decades of civil disobedience and anarchist bombings, the Socialist Republic of Britain is now a small, unimportant backwater connected by a railway bridge, steam-powered dirigible, and mutual suspicion to France. When a British diplomat's murder is made to look like suicide, ferocious Detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard stalks a ruthless murder squad through the heart of a Belle Epoque Paris, the center of the greatest empire in a world of steam-driven hansom cabs, automatons, and flying machines. LeBrock's relentless quest can lead only to death, truth... or war.
"In short, it’s a great read and a great addition to the expanding genre of Steampunk. Talbot has done something fresh with it, having written one of the earlier steampunk comics in Luther Arkwright. Ultra-violence touches aside, Grandville is an enjoyable story to read and I’ll be hunting down the sequel soon for more badger-rich adventure."
- Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind by Dru Pagliassotti
Taya, the metal-winged icarus whose investigation helped defeat a plot against Ondinium and its populace, is assisting her exalted husband Cristof Forlore on his first ambassadorial mission. They must learn about Mareaux’s experiments in airship technology and determine whether the ostensibly scientific vehicles might be used for warfare - a taboo for Ondiniums, whose domination of the air is tempered by a deep cultural abhorrence toward airborne weapons after the devastation of the Last War a thousand years ago.
"When it really gets going, the action sweeps the reader up. There is an eventful train journey, a dangerous mission and plenty of suspense. If you add the aerial visuals and technology this is a very rewarding read. It does tend to read like a screenplay at times and I would have preferred more action and description to the talking. That said this was enjoyable and creative Steampunk fantasy."
- Ghosts of War by George Mann
It is 1927, and New York City is under attack. Flying among the airships, strange winged creatures swoop from the sky and carry away its citizens, and only the Ghost can protect them. He is close to finding their origin: a deranged military scientist who is slowly rebuilding himself as a machine... The Cold War with the British Empire threatens to escalate into bloodshed, and there are murmurs of a terrible weapon that could fracture space itself. Only by making an uneasy alliance with a British spy will the hero, haunted by memories of his own war, stand a chance of preventing another...
"The story is familiar but it is the backdrop and setting that makes this worth a read. It can get macabre and gruesome at times, but for the most part this is an enjoyable romp over the rooftops of NYC with plenty of aerial battles and gadgets thrown in."
- Beneath London by James P Blaylock
When the sudden collapse of the Victoria Embankment uncovers a passage to an unknown realm, Langdon St. Ives sets out explore it, not knowing that a wealthy psychopath is working to keep the underworld's secrets hidden for reasons of his own. Assumed to be dead and buried beneath London, St. Ives lives secretly on the streets of the great city and investigates a string of ghastly crimes.
"Beneath London might be a well-crafted Steampunk novel, but it has a hefty dose of dark horror besides."
The metropolis of New Crobuzon sprawls at the centre of its own bewildering world. Humans and mutants and arcane races throng the gloom beneath its chimneys, where the rivers are sluggish with unnatural effluent, and factories and foundries pound into the night. For more than a thousand years, the parliament and its brutal militia have ruled ove...
Recommended reads by sub-genre
Select a sub-genre below to see which books we highly recommend.
Fantasy set in an alternative, fictional world
Fantasy with epic characters, themes, and plot
Heroic / Sword and Sorcery
Fantasy with heroic adventures
Fantasy narrative with an urban setting
Historical fantasy / fiction
Historical fiction with fantasy elements
Fantasy set in parallel worlds
Science / Speculative
Draws elements from both science fiction and fantasy
Fantasy for ages up to 12
Fantasy for ages 12+
Fantasy for ages 18+
Dystopian / Post-Apocalyptic
Fiction set in dark, nightmarish worlds
Monarchy / Empire
Fantasy books with empires at their core
Fiction with elements of fear, horror, death, gloom and romance
Fiction with vampiric characters
Fiction with werewolf characters
Fiction with steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology
Fiction with the legendary, scaled, fire-breathing creatures
Wizards / Magicians
Fantasy with wizards, witches, magicians, sorceresses...
Lore, Legend and Mythology
Inspired by ancient folklore and mythology
Fantasy books focusing on mailtary life
Roman historical fiction
Explore the ancient Roman Empire
Books exploring the galaxy of the ever-popular franchise
Animal fantasy books
Fantasy with sentient animals
The Thief / Assassin
Fantasy books starring the thief or the assassin
Fiction exploring beyond the laws of nature
Japanese comic books and graphic novels
Liked to be scared? These books will do that...
For the reader who loves to laugh
Inspired by Tolkien
Love Lord of the Rings? Now try these...
The best science fiction and fantasy anthlogies