Narrator: Andrea Emmes
Publisher: Topline Tack (2015)
Length: 8 hours 8 minutes
Series: Book 1 Chronicles of Steele
Set in a steampunked England, this story follows Raven Steele, Reaper, as she tries to find balance in her life. She is tasked by the eldest son (Solomon) of the Duke to see Darius (the youngest son) safely to the Wood Witch in the hopes she will be able to cure his strange malady. Raven soon finds herself caught up in in a tangled web of plans laid by various nefarious folks. She is not sure that she can keep young Darius alive… not sure at all.
The Reapers are a unique set of assassins and righters of wrongs. For every life they take, they must in turn save a life. Raven comes from a line of Reapers and was raised with the code. I liked this give and take aspect to the story. It allowed some of the characters to pass that final judgement but did not relieve them of their responsibility to turn around and save a life without having passed judgement upon it. In this case, young Darius needs Raven’s protection from his own father, but he also needs specialized medical attention for this mysterious condition. This gives Raven plenty to worry about. Plus Darius has a loyal dog, Nikki, who Raven must also keep safe.
Raven has this corset that I really want to get my hands on and have a similar one made. It has big magnets on the back, making it easy for her to store a crossbow or sword. It’s sexy and steampunky, so I can overlook the obvious drawbacks of having items accidentally knocked loose or even someone imply taking something when she’s distracted by fighting. She is a careful and deadly fighter, so I am sure she has weighed the pros and cons of this. I trust her judgement.
Most of the cast is male. Raven stars at the center of the story, but there are few females besides her. Later, we do meet the Wood Witch, and also an herbalist names Marietta. These two ladies affect the plot and play integral roles. I grew quite fond of Marietta – so practical and a little sharp tongued. There are a few more, but they had very minor roles. Meanwhile, Raven is surrounded by men for the bulk of the tale.
Captain Jack Grant has been tasked by the Duke to bring Darius back. He’s also a potential romantic interest. He can’t figure Raven out and she is stumped over him. They have to build trust first, especially since the Duke wants Darius dead. One of my little criticisms is that I was confused for most of the story about Jack Grant. Now, obviously I now know that he is a single person. But for much of the story he is referred to either as Grant or as Jack and only a very few times is he called Captain Jack Grant. So, for most of the story I thought we had two separate men working in the Duke’s guards and that both were potentially interested in Raven. It was confusing. And I fear that I did the same thing with the medical doctor, Colton…. who I think might be Gregory Colton? Or are they two separate people? Sigh…. Obviously, if their last names were obvious surnames like Coltonson or Grantson, then I think I would be able to keep them straight with ease during this action-packed, fast paced story.
The steampunk aspects are nicely built into the story. The author doesn’t dwell on the mechanics and instead makes the mechanized items (like steampunk horses) tools for the characters. I like that not every bit of technology works all the time as planned and that not everyone likes the technology. Later in the story, we get an additional plot line that involves mechanized servants. This, along with keeping Darius safe, gives Raven plenty to keep her busy. Story was definitely entertaining!
I received a copy of this audiobook from the narrator at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
Narration: Andrea Emmes did a great job with voices and accents. Her little kid voice for Darius was perfect. I especially liked her accent and attitude for Marietta. All her character voices were distinct and she did a variety of regional accents too.
What I Liked: Steampunk goodness!; Nikki the dog; corset bristling with weapons; the tenets of the Reaper code before each chapter; plenty of action; Marietta and her attitude; the plot thickens about halfway through the tale; the steampunk aspects don’t overshadow the plot and characters; great narration; love the cover art.
What I Disliked: Mostly a male cast; sometimes I was confused on characters because they are referred to by a single name (like Jack or Grant for Cpt. Jack Grant) – I thought he was 2 separate characters for most of the book.
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