The Revenge of the Mad Scientist by Lara Nance is an energetic and entertaining steampunk novel. You most definitely don’t have to be a diehard fan of the genre to enjoy this story. It will appeal to everyone. Strong characters and an intricate plot make this a cracking good read. Lady Arabella Trunkett’s father is kidnapped at a ball, and all evidence points to the Gandissians, the very people he’s working to establish a peace treaty with on behalf of Urbania. However, Belle concludes it’s a set-up and it’s Carabarras which is behind the skulduggery. She sets off with her ward, Benji, and her butler to rescue her father. This series isn’t called the Airship Chronicles for nothing and we see Belle hiring Captain Joe and his vessel Fantasy Flyer to make the journey. Add another airship, the Gambit, and its dashing, roguish captain Rett, who just happens to have previously left Belle at the altar, toss in some romance and mystery and you’re set for an absorbing story.
This is steampunk at its best with steaming contraptions of all kinds in a Victorianesque setting. We meet scoundrels and stiffly upright, honest individuals, feisty women and bolshy butlers. The feel for the age is vividly created. Scenery varies from lavish ballrooms to desert wastes, but everywhere the action is exciting although never predictable. There isn’t a dull moment, but it’s not all gung-ho adventuring. Strong emotions play their part; there is tension, despair, triumph, love and courage in ample helpings. This looks like being a fabulous series.