My first novella, City of Kaiju, is finally out! Available through Amazon and Books2Read. You can see a preview of the very first chapter here. Help support a fresh new author with a fantastic read this spring season.
Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. Today, I review Gears of Fate by Wilbert Stanton.
Today’s novel review is Gears of Fate by Wilbert Stanton. You can find it here. It’s time to diversify our genres with a little Steampunk fantasy. I haven’t really done much of these that often, but steampunk has always been a unique genre for me. The many copper, steam, antiquity of it all is fascinating, and this is long overdue for me. So let’s get into it.
The story follows Zak Walker, a fringe rat living in the sky city where steam powers everything. The god are at each other’s throats, but behind it all, Queen Mob and the prince of the fey, Puck, want the power of the Olympians for themselves. But when a Seelie princess, Seneca, emerges in front of his home, the mysterious fey whisks Zak on an adventure of a lifetime, down to the surface world where it’s a magical, steam-filled wonderland.
This story is a wonderful treat, and while I feel it plays on a bunch of common fantasy cliches, it does so in a convincing way. Steampunk mixed with traditional fantasy without the swordplay and a loving character to go with it. Zak is a hot shot like Han Solo. He’s cocky, talkative, thinks with his heart and not his head. He does get into unwinnable arguments. He’s a teenager with a brash personality that is in over his head upon reaching the surface world.
The plot is a treat to follow, but it does play it safe at times. It uses plenty of common fantasy races, but with the steampunk and surface world elements added, it’s unique enough that it gets a pass. You have goblins, dwarves, centaurs, pixies, and of course, fey and mythical legends in the vein of Percy Jackson.
It does allude that the world is Earth in the future, since it implies that the gods abandoned the world, but had no choice but to intervene once humans go too far and bring the world to the brink of destruction. I’ve had a headcanon that the many historical gods and goddesses abandoned us after the fall of Rome, but who knows if that’s even true or not. I love making headcanons about history to try and piece everything together.
Which does explain why we don’t see anything from the old human society carried over, which is hard to explain when this takes place assuming this is in fact Earth. Like smart phones, cars etc. Maybe they all abandoned it in favor of steam lest they incur the wrath of the gods again.
But the highlight for me was the characters. Seneca is the most high strung female I’ve seen. A bit ditzy, but not outright stupid. If anything, she’s more levelheaded than Zac which says a ton about her. Zac and Seneca have perfect chemistry and make for one hilarious duo. These two handle their, for lack of a better word, stereotypes and make them work in their favor. Heck, they work, period. Seneca is the ditzy girl, but she’s got plenty of spunk and is knowledgeable about the world around her. Zac, while the typical idiot hero, has a sense of confidence and street smarts. It’s a good balance that doesn’t go too far in one direction.
This makes the whole story worth reading, just to follow the two on their journey. The world is amazing and a joy to explore, but seeing these two interact and play against stereotype is wonderfully executed and a fresh sight in fantasy, especially YA fantasy. Everyone had personality in this story and no one character sounded the same. The dialog was brilliant and really shined throughout. Everyone was a star.
Even the deities and gods and many of the mythical creatures as well. It’s always a wonderful sight to see plenty of personality in these works, something most fantasy stories tend to lack. Sometimes, fantasy takes themselves too seriously, especially YA, which, yes, you have to focus on teenage stuff like drama, high school and annoying parents. But to have a YA fantasy that isn’t afraid to have fun and put a smile on their faces as they read it. That’s an automatic win in my book (well, not MY book, available now, but…oh, you know what I mean).
Another small issue is that, like some I’ve read in the past, contains some typos and grammatical errors, which, while not has big of an annoyance as some of the other books I’ve head (Fire of the Fallen, while great in its own right, had this issue as well), it does become noticeable. The most egregious I’ve encountered is mixing up to and too. Which, while easy to make writing a draft (I do that sometimes, as any author tends to do) it looks silly to see in a published book. I do tend to be easier on this than I have been in the past unless it becomes a huge issue. Fortunately, it wasn’t, so I’ll let it slide.
This is a great story that has everything you could want in fantasy. Wonderful cast, great mythology, wonderful worldbuilding, a grand adventure, and it’s close to home as far as fantasy is concerned. It is book one in what could be a bigger series, but I’m a fan already. I can’t wait for more.
+ Wonderful cast
+ An epic journey
+ YA that is more fun than gloomy.
+ Characters don’t act too stereotypical
– Feels a bit cliched at times.
5/5 – Great story.
That’s all for today. If you liked this post and want to see more, I have a Ko-Fi page set up. Why spend three bucks on a Starbucks Coffee when you can help support hard-working authors like me? Every bit helps and keeps me going. So thank you, and remember, the inn is always open.