Steampunk Rat Review
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Boston Metaphysical Society creator Madeline Holly-Rosing brings her fans Steampunk Rat, a steampunk novella from the same world—and a Steampunk Chronicle 2013 Readers’ Choice Nominee.

Readers learn about the Weldsmore family and their aristocratic politics through the eyes of Jonathan, the youngest Weldsmore, and his rat, Tinker. In this young adult novella, Jonathan finds Tinker crushed at the side of the road and decides to fix her broken limbs with mechanical ones. He hides her as his high-nosed grandmother entertains friends—but as Tinker gets loose and Jonathan’s brother, Hal, makes unwise decisions, Jonathan must rise above his brother and grandmother’s petty, irresponsible behavior and save everyone with his wits and Tinker’s help.

Steampunk Rat is filled with wonderful images that pull double-duty by also providing characterization. In describing Beatrice, Jonathan’s stuck-up grandmother, Holly-Rosing offers a Medusa image: “a high bodice and a black corset laced with pearls, skeins of copper wire wound their way up and around her dress like snakes with no end and no beginning.” The reference is taken further to describe Beatrice’s character: “Unlike Medusa, Beatrice Weldsmore had no fear or regrets when she looked in the mirror. Needless to say, several mirrors were placed strategically around the…room allowing Beatrice a clear view into every corner where someone might be talking behind her back.” With these few lines, Holly-Rosing gives readers an interesting image of Beatrice and a complete understanding of her character’s priorities. I also enjoyed the characterization shown between Tinker and Jonathan, as they go through the motions of rat therapy. It creates a tenderness in Jonathan that makes him instantly likable.

  
 
The story switches between Tinker’s and Jonathan’s points of view—and by adding the innocent perspective of a cyborg rat, Holly-Rosing also creates humor within her novella. For instance, when everyone is in danger and about to die, it’s Tinker who can save them—with Jonathan’s help. In a moment of great tension, Holly-Rosing writes, “It was only [Tinker’s] love and devotion to Jonathan which urged her forward. And the thought of a really big cracker.”

Still, the pacing may appear odd to a modern reader. While the exposition is interesting, it may take a while for readers to understand where the story is headed. Holly-Rosing paints the setting and situation in detail first, and the pace doesn’t pick up until Tink and Beatrice meet. Because the story is only about 75 pages long, though, I didn’t mind being in the dark for a while, and young adult readers may not have any issue with it at all.

As with many self-published e-books, there are errors within Steampunk Rat. However, while coming upon the occasional grammatical errors may have been annoying, it never hindered my understanding of the story. So while presentation may sometimes be compromised, the story was clear, and it won’t keep me from reading more of Holly-Rosing’s work.

Steampunk Rat is an enjoyable read and a simple introduction to the world of steampunk for any young adult reader. You can keep up to date with or learn more about the Boston Metaphysical Society at BostonMetaphysicalSociety.com.

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