I am relatively new to the steampunk world. It was a little difficult for me to understand that universe in the beginning. I felt like I needed to read a steampunk guide in order to understand. But after the submersible (submarine) was introduced, I finally got the hang of things.
So let’s back the story up a little bit and let me tell you about “The Lady in the Coppergate Tower.”
This story takes place in Victorian London and Romania. In this world, they have automatons (think Bicentennial Man) and ray guns. They refer to electricity as Tesla (as in Nikola Tesla), especially the specific type of light bulbs used. Carriages are drawn by mechanical creatures, not live animals.
That is the gist of the steampunk universe. Now, on to the story…
This story is a mixture of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Dracula,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” “Tangled,” and “Into the Woods.” Crazy, right?
Hazel is a young woman employed by Dr. Sam MacInnes. She has an extraordinary ability to heal people. She is an academic and loves to spend her time at lectures and reading books. She is on the fringes of society, while her employer is smack dab in the middle of society. The two differences in their social status keeps them from courting, even though they are attracted to each other.
At an event one evening, a mysterious count arrives. He cannot take his eyes off of Hazel and asks her to dance. Sam feels like he needs to protect her, since she has no family members (besides her adoptive mother) to watch out for her.
What Hazel soon discovers is that she is the niece of this mysterious count and that she has a twin sister. The count came to London to persuade Hazel to come to Romania to help her sister. Her healing powers could help her twin’s madness.
She agrees to go to help her sister, because she has seen her twin’s deterioration in her dreams. Sam decides to invite himself along on this journey, because someone needs to look out for her (and because he does not trust Count Petrescu).
Their mode of transportation from London to Romania is a submersible (a submarine similar to Captain Nemo’s submarine). This, of course, makes Sam sick to his stomach, because he has claustrophobia. But he bears it because he needs to be there for Hazel.
On the trip over to Romania, strange things happen on board. All the while, Hazel and Sam are trying to uncover the mystery behind the count. They suspect he is a vampire.
Petrescu’s intentions are nefarious, something that is suspected throughout the book. What he wants with Hazel is maddening, but that is something you won’t discover until the end. She follows him to Romania, because first and foremost, she needs to save her sister.
I loved “The Lady in the Coppergate Tower.” The Vlad the Impaler reference really lifted this to five stars for me. Once Count Petrescu was introduced, I was hooked. I didn’t know what he wanted with Hazel. I kept trying to guess, but I had no clue what he wanted her for. When that is revealed, the word “maddening” is the correct word to explain it.
Being new to the steampunk universe, I have to say that Nancy Campbell Allen did a marvelous job intertwining all of the different types of stories together. From Jules Verne to gothic to the Disney version of Rapunzel, she did a great job of bringing these elements together to create a rather scary love story.
For those who are not big on romance, just FYI, the romance takes a back page to the nefariousness of Petrescu. But like any good movie, you have to throw a little bit of a love story in there, even if it is not the main part of the story.
I think I’m still a little giddy that Vlad the Impaler is a part of this book. I have to admit, I just loved that part. I can handle vampires. Zombies, not so much.
I recommend reading this adventure. It is PG, so not too dark and not too mushy with the love stuff. It is a little scary, but very thrilling and shrouded in mystery.[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]
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