TITLE: The Sunken
AUTHOR: S.C. Green
SERIES: Engine Ward (#1)
PUBLISHER: Grymm & Epic Publishing
GENRE: Steampunk, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
RATING: 5/5 Stars
In the heart of London lies the Engine Ward, a district forged in coal and steam, where the great Engineering Sects vie for ultimate control of the country. For many, the Ward is a forbidding, desolate place, but for Nicholas Thorne, the Ward is a refuge. He has returned to London under a cloud of shadow to work for his childhood friend, the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Deep in the Ward's bowels, Nicholas can finally escape his strange affliction - the thoughts of animals that crowd his head. But seeing Brunel interact with his mechanical creations, Nicholas is increasingly concerned that his friend may be succumbing to the allure of his growing power. That power isn't easily cast aside, and the people of London need Brunel to protect the streets from the prehistoric monsters that roam the city. King George III has approved Brunel's ambitious plan to erect a Wall that would shut out the swamp dragons and protect the city. But in secret, the King cultivates an army of Sunken: men twisted into flesh-eating monsters by a thirst for blood and lead. Only Nicholas and Brunel suspect that something is wrong, that the Wall might play into a more sinister purpose--to keep the people of London trapped inside.
What I Liked:
- The plot in this book was so well constructed. I didn't really know what to expect when I first started reading but I was completely gripped by the first page. Green uses multiple viewpoints in her novel, and each character has their own sub-plot, set of motives and back-story to consider. I felt that Green did an expert job of taking these threads and weaving them together to fit in with the overriding arc of the story. She had plenty of twists and turns that I didn't see coming and it kept a good pace, not once ever letting me get bored or going too fast for me to comprehend.
- The world that 'The Sunken' is set in is built so beautifully. To give you an idea, Green's story takes us back to when England was at the height of it's Industrial age. This is alternate history though, and Green puts a very different spin on things. The worship of technological advance has gone too far, and from the skills of engineering, art, poetry, architecture and design come fanatical religious sects and new Gods. I loved recognising names such as Turner, Byron and Shelly and yet seeing them in a whole new world and light. Green fills her world with huge social and political complexities which help to further the plot, and gorgeous new creatures such as swamp dragons which I badly want to see drawn and written about.
- I guess I just really loved that this book managed to surprise me so much. It was of a genre that I had never read before and in those cases I would normally go for a popular pick that I had read numerous good reviews for and seen on blogs everywhere. This is one of those books that I sorely believe should have received much more recognition, especially from fans of the genre as it has totally convinced me that Steampunk is definitely a genre that I would enjoy reading more of.
What I Disliked:
- I suppose at times I felt like the characters were a little too flighty. Just when I felt like I had got to know them, they would do something that I believed was not within the personality that had been written for them. In such a complex social and political context this was more of a minor irritation than a turn off but it did make me wonder who it was I was supposed to like and trust. I trust though that this flitting uncertainty on personality will cease as I read more of the series.
This book is what I would call a masterpiece. It has been a long time since I have read any kind of book that has made me so excited to be reading something different, something new. I am excited about the concept of Steampunk and alternate history, and about this series as a whole. The plot and world-building married together so beautifully and felt well thought out. I was just totally blown away and impressed! I would like to see perhaps a little more character development in future books belonging to the series but I am hooked. I want to read more!