Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl by David Barnett
- Method of Obtaining: I obtained my copy from the publisher.
- Published by: Tor Books
- Release Date: 9.10.2013
Nineteenth century London is the center of a vast British Empire. Airships ply the skies and Queen Victoria presides over three-quarters of the known world—including the East Coast of America, following the failed revolution of 1775.
London might as well be a world away from Sandsend, a tiny village on the Yorkshire coast. Gideon Smith dreams of the adventure promised him by the lurid tales of Captain Lucian Trigger, the Hero of the Empire, told in Gideon’s favorite “penny dreadful.” When Gideon’s father is lost at sea in highly mysterious circumstances Gideon is convinced that supernatural forces are at work. Deciding only Captain Lucian Trigger himself can aid him, Gideon sets off for London. On the way he rescues the mysterious mechanical girl Maria from a tumbledown house of shadows and iniquities. Together they make for London, where Gideon finally meets Captain Trigger.
But Trigger is little more than an aging fraud, providing cover for the covert activities of his lover, Dr. John Reed, a privateer and sometime agent of the British Crown. Looking for heroes but finding only frauds and crooks, it falls to Gideon to step up to the plate and attempt to save the day…but can a humble fisherman really become the true Hero of the Empire?
Seriously, this book was one of the most fun romps through reading that I’ve had this year. You name it, it had it. Steampunk, dirigibles, piracy, searching for treasure, pyramids (!!), adventure, danger – just think Indiana Jones means Jules Verne and yeah.. that’s what Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl came out to be.
So first, let me talk a bit about Gideon Smith. He was a fun main character – a bit dopey, a little slow at first; hesitant to seek out adventure and lost and surrounded by a whole lot of strange things. I immediately not only liked the character but was in his corner, rooting for him through all the strange happenings going on around him. A few times I was even surprised at his erring on the side of caution, as that is not something you often see the “hero” of an adventure book doing. Then again, when you are surrounded by characters like mechanical women, vampires, famous authors, pirates, pilots, and noted, famed adventurers – well, I guess the “it” thing to be is the one that’s cautious and a little uncertain of things.
Did that all sound like a bit too much for one book? Trust me, it’s not. At first I thought the introduction of a famous author’s name would be too “over-the-top” and after I got over that I wondered if the right author was chosen. But the right one was and the roller coaster ride that David Barnett takes his readers on very much proves that he knew what he was doing.
Something else I loved? The wide diversity of characters and love mixes. From an old love between two friends to a new love between a man and a machine, there was love and romance without having to resort to cheese or smutty writing. And the men don’t save the women – oh no, it’s very much equal opportunity here. And I seriously want to go on and on talking about details but I don’t want to spoil the fun so trust me when I say – if you love an adventurous, steampunk-y tale, then Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl should be picked up as soon as possible. It’ll provide hours of entertainment.
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