In this steampunk novel, we meet Kat Bloodmayne, a young, smart and beautiful woman who has powers she doesn’t understand, powers she can’t control. This “monster” as she calls it, can start fires and throw people and objects across the room. She wants to be cured of whatever this is. One of her hopes is that the cure will help her reconnect with her father, the man who has rejected her and withheld love and affection for as long as she can remember.
Her father, Dr. Bloodmayne is the leading scientist in World City where he leads the Tower Academy of Science, the most prestigious science school in the world. He is driven to discover and harness the secret powers of life and is ruthless in seeking answers to the quest that has consumed him for years.
Kat discovers writings from a Dr. Latimer that offer more insight than she has been able to discover elsewhere. But Dr. Latimer, once on the faculty of the Tower, left discredited. No one knows where he is.
In a confrontation at a dance, Kat is accosted by several youth. In defending herself, Kat’s power is released. She flings the young men around the room and starts a fire which leaves several of them severely burned.
A family servant, Ms. Stuart, helps Kat escape and sends her to her nephew, Stephen Grey. In the process, Ms Stuart is murdered by those seeking Kat.
Stephen Grey, a former policeman who was betrayed by his fiancée and his partner/best friend, is now a professional bounty hunter—the best in World City. He agrees to help Kat find Dr. Latimer.
Their search takes them to Covenshire where they are found by other bounty hunters pursuing Kat. In the ensuing fight, Kat reveals her powers. Stephen learns she is wanted for murder. His doubts grow and he believes she has lied to him.
He takes her back to World City where she is taken into custody and brought to the Tower, not jail.
Stephen has second thoughts and remembers Kat’s fears her father would conduct experiments on her. He realizes he loves her and goes to the Tower. He discovers Kat’s fears are justified and decides to rescue her. Which leads us into the next book in the Soul Chronicle series.
This novel has several strengths that make it an enjoyable read.
The story world is very well drawn. Its science and technology is easy to understand. Ms. Busse weaves world of Kat and Stephen seamlessly into her narrative without stopping to dump tons of information on the reader or overly explain things.
Kat and Stephen are complex characters with flaws that make them very believable. We can see how their personalities influence their goals and their decisions. And hinder how they handle the crises in the story world.
The plot is well-done, including an intriguing subplot of the old and sick disappearing from World City and graves being robbed.
Ms. Busse also does an excellent job of using Kat’s troubles and Stephen’s values to generate tension and conflict.
Stephen’s decision at the end to help Kat is believable and consistent with his character. One of the
strongest points in the writing is Ms. Busse’s reveal of Dr. Bloodmayne’s motivation. It creates empathy and prevents him from falling into the Mad Scientist stereotype.
Many times, Ms. Busse does a excellent job of foreshadowing future events in the story although there are a couple of situations where the foreshadow telegraphs things to come a little too openly which dilutes the tension. I won’t say more to avoid spoiler alerts. I also thought there were places where the novel could have benefited from some tighter editing.
Overall, this is a very good story with a fascinating story world and interesting characters battling huge obstacles.
I give it four stars.
A copy of this book was given to me in return for an honest review.