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But what it does have going for it is a truly original story even though it borrows broadly from Steampunk, Supernatural fiction and Westerns. I highly recommend you read it, the one guarantee I can make you is that you will feel like you got your money's worth from this book.
I have found that to be the case with all of Mrs. Fitch's books.
A must read.
There's a good handful of characters involved, and one thing I liked was the degree of evolution they each underwent in their respective roles. The one downside to that was there were some moments in the middle where I started to dislike the two main protagonists, Kate and Richard, because of their acceptance and collaboration with their captors. I suppose the point was power and adventure are alluring, and in the end the characters had to make a choice, but it did make me not see either of them as a "hero." But if you like the type of character development where people aren't all good or all bad, the author did a good job.
There's also quite a bit of complicated romances, and I never knew which characters were going to end up with whom. The story was well-written and well-researched; I had no trouble immersing myself in the world. (A few times throughout reading, I even thought it might make a good anime film, lol.)
The book is 109,000 words, and certainly feels epic when you start off on an old boxcar train and end up on a flying ship headed for a volcano made of glass and energy. I did enjoy the read, and am curious to check out other books of the genre.
As with her first book, Fitch creates intriguing, fully realized characters. They are never all-good or all-evil (well, maybe Davisson is, but even at the end, you learn that he may have had reason to start down such a bad path), which makes them all the more believable and endearing. I LOVE that the possible romances were complicated, but logically so. I did not know at any moment who might end up with whom, nor who I WANTED to end up with whom. The ending was SO satisfying and real and, well, what it clearly needed to be. The organic growth of the characters and plot came to a good conclusion, while still leaving open the possibilities of further story. Maybe Fitch will write a sequel!
I like the term "steampulp," which really sums up the feel of this novel. Zachary Richards is SO the dime novel hero in a much richer world.
As much as I enjoyed Second Death, I think I like Source of Lightning even more, and I highly recommend it. Fitch researches fanatically; you cannot doubt as a reader that any historic detail is amiss. Yet she weaves it all with such unique fantastical elements that it is sure to please anyone who appreciates fantasy and/or science fiction as well as history and romance.