Reviewed by Sarina
TITLE: Clockwork Menagerie
SERIES: Shadows of Asphodel #2.5
AUTHOR: Karen Kincy
PUBLISHER: Self Published
LENGTH: 118 pages
RELEASE DATE: July 11, 2016
1914. Konstantin would love to hide in his laboratory and dissect the clockwork dragon captured from Russia, but the Archmages of Vienna have other plans. He finds himself shipped off to St. Petersburg as the scientific attaché to an ambassador. His orders? Look, but don’t touch. Of course, he considers this an impossible request with so much enemy technomancy to explore. To make matters worse, Konstantin has to work with the dashing zeppelin commander Himmel, a man who should also be untouchable. They can’t act on the smoldering attraction between them without risking it all. Faced with an illegal relationship and a devious rival technomancer, Konstantin might not return from this mission in Russia without conquering the forbidden.
A companion novella to the Shadows of Asphodel series, from Konstantin’s point of view.
Ordered to accompany a diplomatic mission to Russia, Konstantin can’t help but feel out of place. With no knowledge of the Russian language, strict orders not to touch anything or speak out of turn, and an experiment awaiting him back home in his lab, Konstantin would rather be ensconced in his own space and left to his own devices. Add one devastatingly handsome zeppelin commander to the list of things he can’t touch and the trip has officially become a world class example of torture. When an unexpected discovery leaves Konstantin stranded and without a job, he’ll have to make a choice: go home in shame or take a chance and do something that will either end the war or land him in jail.
I’ve never heard of dieselpunk before but I really hope this isn’t the last book I read that uses it. (Think steampunk only instead of mechanicals run on either magic or steam, they’re run on magic or diesel fuel.) I’ve also not read any of the previous books in the series as they’re all M/F as far as I can tell but this was a great introduction to the world the author has created and I found this interesting enough to give the other books a look. While some knowledge of the previous books would’ve been helpful at the beginning of the story context wise, enough information was given along the way to know exactly what was going on so I had no problems understanding and enjoying the story. I adored Konstantin; he was a great protagonist and it was hard not to admire his determination to do what was right no matter the cost to himself. I really enjoyed Himmel, as well, though I do wish I had more of his back story. He and Konstantin seemed well matched and his actions both during and at the end of the story spoke volumes about what sort of man he is.
The setting of the story was great, the world building was great, I loved the characters and my only complaint is that I wasn’t ready to be done with them yet. I’m not sure if the main characters here will appear later on in the series again but, if they do, it will be another point in favor of checking the other books out. If you like steampunk I’d highly recommend you check this one out, even if you don’t give the other books in the series a second look, as it was really well done and really enjoyable.