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Steampunk Fantasy Review: The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter by Rod Duncan

The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter: The Fall of The Gas-Lit Empire, Book 1 (The Fall of The Gas-Lit Empire #1)


Egalley thanks to Angry Robot

Synopsis from Goodreads
Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life – as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus.

But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better…

Amazon  US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository | Fishpond

8/10

* * *
A curious thing happened to me while reading this book. I couldn't get through the very beginning and got stuck on the first few chapters for a couple of months. The writing felt heavy, unwieldy.

And then I picked the book up again in mid September and read it in one sitting! Go figure. All I'm saying, give The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter a chance to charm you before giving up.


Elizabeth Barnabus is an exile from the Kingdom where women can be owned as property and lives in The Republic now, a much more conservative country which with its rigid manners and strict adherence to the law protects womenfolk somewhat more successfully.

 Of course, The Kingdom and The Republic are actually Great Britain split into two, and in Leicester where Elizabeth lives that means that the city itself is literally split into halves.

Elizabeth leads a double life masquerading as twins - by night she is a private intelligencer, her non-existent brother, and by day she is his spinster sister looking after the household and helping him with his correspondence. 

When The Duchess of Bletchley from The Kingdom begs her to take on the case of her missing brother who ran into The Republic, Elizabeth knows that this is bigger than her and much more than she can chew, but the reward is tempting - a promise to be able to return from her exile freely is so hard to resist...

Soon she is forced to take on a job in a travelling circus remembering her own childhood in her father's caravan; dodge around the powerful agents of The Patent Office looking for the same target as she; and at last venture into the forbidden for her territory, - the country of her birth, where she is a wanted woman, and the men-at-arms of The Duke of Northampton are waiting for her with a not-so warm welcome.

There is danger in the air, one curious device turning lead into gold, colorful and so different traditions of The Kingdom, old friends and new enemies, and at last, John Farthing, a meddling, persistent agent of The Patent Office.

If it's steampunk, it's a very muted one. There are a few gadgets, but the spirit of the world created by Rod Duncan strongly reminded me of Planesrunner by Ian McDonald. If you don't mind a steady pace, less dashing heroines and very little gadgetry in lieu of alternative history exploration, this book is for you. Recommended!


* * *
Плохо у меня эта книга пошла в начале, дамы и господа. Пара месяцев у меня ушли на первые несколько глав, и я уже думала, что придётся книгу бросить. Ан-нет! Как только главная героиня выбралась и из Лестера, книга пошла быстро и дочитала я её на одном духу.


В общем-то, это не стимпанк, к которому мы привыкли. Здесь ударение делается не на новые гаджеты, а на альтернативную историю. В этом плане привычная нам Англия 19 века разбита на две державы - Королевство и Республику.
Элизабет Барнабас - беженка из Королевства, где женщины - это имущество, и она принадлежит герцогу Нортхамптона, который купил долги цирка её отца когда ей было 15 лет. В Республике права женщин уважают больше, однако пуританское общество этой страны не делаёт жизнь Элизабет лёгкой.

Ей приходится притворяться, что у неё есть брат - близнец, который работает частным детективом ночами, пока Элизабет следит за домом и его корресподенцией днём, чтобы хоть как-то зарабатывать на жизнь.

Когда герцогиня Блетчли из Королевства пытается нанять её "брата", чтобы найти своего брата, Элизабет знает, что это расследование ей не по плечу, однако надежда на возврат в Королевство и выкуп всех долгов её отца у её владельца слишком сооблазнительная цена, чтобы отказаться от предложения герцогини.

И вот она уже вспоминает как работать в цирке, шатается по улицам Лондона под прикрытием, сбегает от гварцейцев герцога и смертоносных циркачей, а также притивопоставляет свой опыт мастерству агента Патентного Офиса, Джона Фардинга, интересующегося её братом... и всё для того, чтобы найти изобретателя-брата герцогини и остановить его опасное изобретение от воплощения в жизнь...

Интересно, свежо, рекомендую несмотря на медленное начало.
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