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The Mechanical Theater: A Chroniker City Novella Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
While it is steampunk, instead of being this epic adventure, it is a realistic, refreshing story. The characters and their motivations are simplistic, desires that we experience in real life. It made the characters more believable and more tangible.
Solomon, our MC and the brother of Petra from Clockwork Giant, was done insanely well. His core desire is to join the theatre, but also be able to save his youngest sister from the illness she's been battling. Being a struggling artist is something that a lot of us can relate to, especially since his sister's medication costs more than two weeks of work.
He develops a small relationship with Miss Appleton, another member of a theatre. Even as a side character, she has layers and layers that make her so credible. It's not heavy romance, and reads like the beginnings of a genuinely real relationship - making it a breath of fresh air.
With so many layers, and reading so realistically for a Steampunk novel, I felt like I was in the world with Solomon most of the time.
I know a lot of people don't like the "in between" novellas, but this one is a must-read. While you don't need it to understand the main plot, but you should want it because it's so well written.
So don't go in expecting all the over the top elements that steampunk often denotes. What we're looking at here is a small and sweet tale about a young man struggling to look after his family and to follow a dream he has.
I'll call the setting Victorianish just to give you a rough idea of how life is for the poorer people in this world. Things are perpetually teetering on the edge of disaster. Work is hard, manual labor. Lots of it.
And yet Solomon Wade maintains a remarkably positive attitude towards life even as he takes on more work and more responsibility to help out his family. His part time position as a the theater's custodian gives him hope for the future. Until he has to give that up too.
His friendship with Miss Appleton is the sweet element of the tale. A very gentle and courteous romance. And if she is technically the damsel in distress of the tale she is not a doormat or one dimensional.
There's no big crisis here, not large scale drama. It's a character based piece that plays it's emotional beats very well making you care about how it is all going to work out.
I found it a welcome change of pace from some of the other stuff I've been reading recently and at novella length it knows not to outstay it's welcome. The story is told without dragging it into the realms of false melodrama.
I can't label it a must read because it's a novella set in a larger work. But it's certainly a rewarding read.
That last sentence doesn't make it sound very engaging, but trust me, this is a very well written and enjoyable book.
A tie-in to the Chroniker City series, La Theater Mecanique features one of the characters from that book, Solomon Wade, a man with many obstacles in his path. He wants to join the theater and act, but he has a family to support, a brutal job to hold down, and an ill sister in need of medication.
Brooke Johnson does an excellent job of stacking hardship on the hapless protagonist, who never seems to catch a break.
Overall, I found this a big improvement over Clockwork Giant, which I liked but wasn't thrilled with. This one kept me up late.
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