Rise of the Steam BookThe Arcana Imperii: Rise Of The Steam Goddess

Author: Ben Hamby
Rating3 out of 5
Genre: Steam Punk
Format: Kindle Book
Publisher: Delirium of Grandeur Press; 1ST edition (2012)
Release Date: August 2012
Recommended Reading: 16+  

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OVERALL THOUGHTS:  I LOVE STEAMPUNK!  I think it is so incredible that this genre is making a comeback. Mix that together with a fascination with religion and an obsession with vampires and Ben Hamby had me intrigued.  A Vampire Priest, come on, how much better can could it get. I loved how Hamby was able to combine the old with the new; his take on lore as well as Steam Punk is well worth checking out.

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SYNOPSIS: Jonathan wants to redeem his own soul, and would even save the world if that’s what it would take to forgive him. Recruited in 1837 by a mysterious Cardinal, Father Harker now works with a group of monsters to do exactly that. A cabal of vampires threatens to plunge the world into an eternal winter by summoning an ancient goddess of ice and magic. Airships drift through soot-filled skies and steam powered zombies lurch across the countryside. The Arcana Imperii, a Vatican backed team of nightmares, are all that stands in the way of the impending darkness. If only they can trust one another long enough to do any good. The Arcana: Jonathan Harker: Bitten by vampires, he has kept the taint in check with a constant, painful flow of holy water into his half-transformed body. Jacqueline du Rippier: Immaculately dressed and incredibly deadly, this beautiful woman’s words are almost as dangerous as her hidden blades. Victoria Frankenstein: The bastard daughter of the infamous doctor follows in his footsteps, using her father’s knowledge to heal the team and her family name. Lawrence Talbot: An American actor bitten by a werewolf. The handsome young man is now in control of the beast within and is able to transform at will. Henrietta Jekyll: Once a servant of Dr. Jekyll, the innocent maid took his name when she took his formula. Eva Bogdana Marina Nadezhda (Nadia): In appearance, a beautiful young woman. In reality, she has claw-like hands, wet hair and large, luminescent eyes. This beautiful shell hides her true nature, which is that of an alien and lethal mind. All of the members of the Arcana must fight their own inner demons as they chase the conspirators across a late Victorian world. Combining classic horror elements, apocryphal biblical lore, and real historical events, RISE OF THE STEAM GODDESS is an alternate history/horror novel, the first novel in a planned five book series.

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THE LOWDOWN: So, Steampunk that includes a vampire priest meant I absolutely had to check it out (I love it when authors combine my favorite things, it makes me feel like Oprah at Christmas).  The Arcana Imperii: Rise of the Steam Goddess was a good foundation of what is to be a five book series. The characters were thoughtfully put together so that even though readers are just meeting them, they already know a bit about them. In fact, the characters were the best part of this book.  The Steampunk portion was where the book lost the 2 points out of 5; the necessities were there they just didn’t blend well enough for me. I guess I should have expected, with the characters he chose, the genre, and the inclusion of religion, that there would be an allegorical aspect to this novel, but I didn’t.  Not at first anyway. Allegory can be a tough sell and often time’s people miss it, or just don’t care enough, Hamby made SURE that didn’t happen.

On top of a vampiric priest that is part of a secret society run through the Vatican itself (Mind Blown!), as the title suggests he’s a part of a group, a task force of supernatural beings that travel around the world stamping out supernatural tyrants. Just when I didn’t think it could get any cooler, Hamby threw in a relative of Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll, and just to make heads spin, a special character was introduced (that I won’t ruin for all you out there) with a surprising twist,  along with a few other tried and true favs. Getting to know the characters was the part of reading this book that kept me thoroughly entertained with a new take on some old and classic characters.

The amping up of the old was the part where the book became semi-problematic for me.  The descriptions of trains, steam boats, carriages and air-faring zeppelins were in-depth, so much so in fact that they created a story of their own. The characters and their missions were a complete story in themselves, usually the time period and all that fits into the genre adds to the story rather than detracting, but this time that aspect fell short. The separate aspects were done well, they just weren’t seamless and that made me a bit sad.

As for the allegory portion of the story, it totally crept up on me. From the epilogue to about half way through I didn’t see it and then “BAM” it hit me and I was overwhelmed because there seemed to be more than just one possibility. The genius of it was that Hamby explained it but in such a way that he still leaves you hanging on for the next story. He opened a lot of doors and only closed a few so there’s plenty of room for four more books.

This book was good, it actually, in a way, was two books.  Hopefully, Hamby will work out those kinks in the next installment and the story and the Steampunk will flow seamlessly. His characters are great and they work together fantastically well considering where they all originated, it was all in how he adapted them.  I hope you all take the time to read something a bit different, step out of your comfort zone and into a world both old and new, fictional and non and download this book.  Happy reading all!

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