On the Matter of the Red Hand – J M Guillen

This novella has everything that lovers of steam punk (or just a well-written story) are looking for in a book.

A hero with a suitably offbeat approach and whispers of Harry Dresden, John Taylor and Hawk while occupying his own space? Check. A heroine that is truly unique (in my reading at least) but fits the bill in terms of answering back and kick-assery? Check. Assorted side-kicks of more or less degrees of shady? Check.

Add that to a world that hints at vast but, for the purposes of this tale, is remarkably cosy and contained, and a villain who peeps round the edges of the story but is never put on full show – what more can you ask for?

The ‘magic’ system is well thought through and believable while not being run-of-the-mill. This is not a book where at any sign of danger that handy-dandy fix-exactly-this-situation spell is suddenly pulled out of the hat.

Unusually for a story of this length there is a reasonable amount of back story involved, but the author uses it to good effect and leaves enough out to keep you interested and imagining hours after you finish reading. A neat trick.

Another neat trick is that this tale is complete in and of itself, while very definitely paving the way for a sequel. Something that I am really looking forward to reading – hopefully soon.


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