Ready to talk a little historical sci-fi, urban fantasy, steampunk mashup today? (Yep, that means it’s a hard one to fit into a mold.) Help me welcome author Darcy Drake, who’s guest-reviewing Camera Obscura, the new book from award-winning author Lavie Tidhar.
ABOUT THE BOOK: CAN’T FIND A RATIONAL EXPLANATION TO A MYSTERY? CALL IN THE QUIET COUNCIL. The mysterious and glamorous Lady De Winter is one of their most valuable agents. A despicable murder inside a locked and bolted room on the Rue Morgue in Paris is just the start. This whirlwind adventure will take Milady to the highest and lowest parts of that great city – and cause her to question the very nature of reality itself.
DARCY’S REVIEW: In the dark alternate universe of Camera Obscura, a reptilian race stands at odds against humans and machines as they fight for world power behind a curtain of etiquette and secrecy. Milady De Winter is brought in by a mysterious authority to solve a grisly murder. We see Paris through her cynical eyes. She’s a deeply flawed and intriguing anti-heroine, tackling the obstacles thrown at her with a thirst for survival.
Camera Obscura was not a book that I could read in bed with a foggy brain. This isn’t a grumble about the book itself, but a warning that if you are looking for a read to relax with, then this is not your book. This story is a game of ‘Where’s Waldo’ that the reader can play, picking out the delightful sprinkling of reimagined literary characters. Unfortunately Milady De Winter only connects briefly with them and then most are dismissed. After awhile in the story the reader can give up her making a meaningful connection until the very end.
My biggest quibble with this book was getting stuck with Milady De Winter. She has the cool factor, but it was like getting chained to a babysitter for a whole day. While extremely fun, the babysitter isn’t going to tell you her dreams, hopes, and wishes because she’s your babysitter… A babysitter with the worst luck of all time. Bad things kept happening to her versus the plot being driven by her decisions. Escape from the babysitter would’ve meant getting to explore this unusual reality of aliens and fairgrounds myself.
I would’ve liked to have seen more of the Lizards that had taken control of the British Isles. They were one of the coolest inventions, but didn’t get even close to enough face time. While information isn’t dumped into the plot, key details and questions were left unanswered far too late in the story. I wasn’t even completely sure what the main character looked like until halfway through the book. Be prepared for a torture scene and quite a few grisly details!
Read this Steampunk adventure for the beautifully dark world that Lavie Tidhar has created and wonder what life would be like if giant lizards lived in London.
ABOUT DARCY, from her blog: My name is Darcy. I’m a writer. I aim to provide steamy Science Fiction Romance with a heaping helping of humor. Space cowboys, steampunk, and gorgeous aliens are my thing. If you share my interests, stay for my blog! I share fiction, clips, and pictures. When I’m not daydreaming about being a Vulcan or having the greatest robot ever, I’m writing stories about people falling in love in fast spaceships, steamy workshops, and the sweaty south. I live in Charlotte, North Carolina with my menagerie of wild books, my rampaging clothing collection, and the sweetest baby ball python in the entire galaxy!
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