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Barnabas Tew and the Missing Scarab by Columbkill Noonan: lively and unique

 

My review

It’s hard to classify this lively novel – it’s detective story, with steampunk, supernatural and fantasy elements. Quite unique and definitely admirable. I’m a firm believer that any book that can’t be pigeonholed neatly is definitely worth a read.

And this one is. It’s extremely entertaining.

The novel has a Victorian setting and the language and characters and their situations are entirely apt for this. Barnabas Tew, a Sherlock Holmes wannabe with sidekick Wilfred, isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. He tends to solve the crimes after he’s lost his clients – either because they’ve given up on him or been killed by the stalkers he was hired to find! However, nothing daunted he tackles his next undertaking with zeal, and some surprise. A trip to view the new Egyptian treasures display at the British Museum leads neatly into this particular adventure. His new client is none other than Anubis, the Egyptian god, and since the sun god (the scarab beetle of the title) has gone missing, the fate of humankind is at stake if BT can’t solve the mystery so that the sun can continue to be rolled across the sky. Could this be the case that will rocket Barnabas Tew to fame and give him an equal ranking with his hero? Or will he fail miserably, as seems to be the pattern of his sleuthing attempts?

The book is a breathless and romp through the underworld, and immense good fun. There’s lots of wit and wryness, imaginative action and comedy. There’s great chemistry between Barnabas and the unflappable, sensible Wilfred who does his best to keep his boss safe. Both take dealing with Egyptian mythological figures and all that entails firmly in their stride with Britishly stiff upper lips and get on with the unlikely task at hand.  

If you enjoy novels that are quirky and escapist, then this is one for you. I loved it and will be following Barnabas’s future adventures with keen interest. You have to wonder what he can possibly do for an encore…

Synopsis

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab
Barnabas Tew, a detective in Victorian London, is having a hard time making a name for himself, probably because most of his clients end up dead before he can solve their cases. His luck is about to change, though, for better or worse: Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead, notices him and calls him to the Egyptian underworld. A terrible kidnapping has occurred; one that promises to put an end to the status quo and could perhaps even put an end to the entire world. It is up to Barnabas (along with his trusty assistant, Wilfred) to discover the culprit and set things to right. Can he turn his luck around and solve the most important case of his life?
Purchase Link – mybook.to/Barnabas

Author Bio

Columbkill Noonan lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where she teaches yoga and Anatomy and Physiology. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her first novel, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” by Crooked Cat Books, was released in 2017, and her latest work, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds”, is set to be released in September 2018.
In her spare time, Columbkill enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, aerial yoga, and riding her rescue horse, Mittens. To learn more about Columbkill please feel free to visit her website (www.columbkill.weebly.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ColumbkillNoonan) or on Twitter (@ColumbkillNoon1).
Social Media Links – Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ColumbkillNoonan/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/columbkillnoon1?lang=en

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Steampunk Book Review: The Revenge of the Mad Scientist by Lara Nance

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.

 

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Publisher Review – 40K

40K publications have lively, in-your-face covers

40K began following me on Twitter. But before I returned the compliment, as I usually do I had a look to see what they are all about. 40K describes itself as an epublisher that specialises in publishing original short works. By ‘short works’ it means novelettes and essays, things that take 40 minutes to an hour to read. This has arisen because short stories and essays tend to get overlooked by traditional publishing houses, but they an equal right to be read.

I studied the short story as an undergrad at Oxford and I have to confess I never warmed to the genre. I felt such works of literature had hardly got going before they stopped. Too much was left unsaid. Now, I have as good an imagination as the next person so I was quite capable of filling the gaps, but that sort of DIY literature didn’t appeal.

But essays are a different matter. These don’t leave large holes. These are short because they’re strongly focused and concentrated. You may not agree with them, but you can admire the tight writing that has gone into them.

40K sells books in the following genres: essays for creative life including Any Fool can Write a Novel but it takes a Real Genius to Sell it, which is one I have to read; essays on authoring in the digital age, and fantasy, literary, sci-fi and steampunk short stories. Steam-what? Steampunk is a genre of sci-fi writing. It’s essentially Victorian sci-fi. The best description I’ve come across of it is here. Gibson and Sterling’s The Difference Engine is a prime example of the genre.

The publications have a very distinctive, modern look to them, as the cover at the top of this post shows.

So, this looks like an interesting publisher. I will definitely try out a few of their books. I’m open to reassessing my views of short stories. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn to love the novelette after all.

 

http://www.40kbooks.com/