Unbeknownst to anyone save Ben Hamby, the author, the Vatican maintains a secret group comprised of individuals who are not altogether natural. This group contains a vampire struggling against his curse, a werewolf, the unfortunate maid of Dr. Jekyll who has inherited her master’s formula and his genius, a Russian water spirit, the illegitimate descendent of Victor Frankenstein, and a mysterious, terrifying woman named Jack. The Vatican sends this team out to investigate such things as living gargoyles, vampire nests in Venice, and a cult hijacking the Chicago World Fair. Does this sound like a promising premise? Yes. Yes it does.
Rise Of The Steam Goddess starts out well. The team investigates – and eliminates – the bulk of a nasty vampire nest. Then, several years later, a cult tied to these creatures surfaces… There is no shortage of adventure, well-crafted battle scenes, drama, and danger. The characters are well-defined, and their interplay is fascinating and often hilarious (particularly when the werewolf is involved).
However, this book isn’t flawless. Let me start with structure: the prologue is longer than most of the subsequent chapters and really ought to be Chapters 1 through 4. Let me move on to prose: the text could have used the stern hand of an editor to make the events truly leap off the page. Let me finish with plot: Victoria Frankenstein is the odd character out. She is not explained or fleshed out as well as the others and disappears for a good chunk of the book. I wish we’d gotten more scenes with her – I feel it would have heightened the stakes, clarified her motives, and added to the poignancy of the ending.
All in all, though, I would certainly recommend this book. The price of admission is well worth the adventure and discoveries contained within. The world it describes is an exciting one, the characters loveable, and the Steam Goddess frightening. In addition, fans of the band Abney Park will definitely want this book for a certain cameo appearance.
I award Rise Of The Steam Goddess three gears out of five. It is well worth a read. Find it at http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Steam-Goddess-Ben-Hamby/dp/0985589604
Your Correspondent From The Bookstore,
Penny J. Merriweather