+Book Review+ A MidSummer Night’s Steampunk by Scott E. Tarbet (a Shakespearean re-telling)

Posted Saturday, 12 April, 2014 by jorielov , , 4 Comments

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A MidSummer Night's Steampunk by Scott E. Tarbet
Artwork Credit: Dale Pease (of Walking Stick Books) http://walkingstickbooks.com

Published By: Xchyler Publishing () 18 November, 2013
Official Editor WebsitesSite  | Twitter
Converse via: #AMidSummerNightsSteampunk
Genres: After the Canon | Classic Re-Telling | Shakespearean | Steampunk | Fantasy
Available Formats: Trade Paperback and E-Book
Page Count: 324


Acquired Book By: I contacted Xchyler Publishing about receiving books in exchange for honest reviews and was asked to pick the two books I’d like to request. Moments in Millennia was my second choice, as my first choice was A MidSummer Night’s Steampunk. My interest in this novel is based on a life-long love of William Shakespeare’s writings! I received a complimentary copy of “A MidSummer Night’s Steampunk” in exchange for an honest review direct from the publisher Xchyler Publishing. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

On Appreciation of William Shakespeare:

As a participant of the A to Z Challenge this April, whereupon each blogger is undertaking 26 Essays | 26 Days, I elected to focus on my love and appreciation of Classical Literature on Day 3: Letter C. Therein, I discuss my fascination and affinity for William Shakespeare from the very first moment I first read his plays and Sonnets. I knew I had found a writer I would be reading for the rest of my life. He had this classic way of ebbing out the human sphere of emotion, psyche, and our living observations. He was the best at conveying each dynamical evocation of human emotions as well. A champion of wordsmiths, it was through his bar of sophisticated eloquence I tend to seek out in other writers. He always felt to me to give great pause before enduing his characters with action or dialogue. He wanted us to have a legacy of thought left behind and for this I am in his debt.

Imagine my happiness in finding there was an author out there who would not only take his own passion for Shakespeare to a new height of re-telling the magically laced “A MidSummer Night’s Dream” and retrofit it into a Steampunkified re-telling of the classic tale with the bentings of a scientific quality of theory!


Author Biography:

Scott E. TarbetScott Tarbet writes enthusiastically in several genres, sings opera, was married in full Elizabethan regalia, loves Steampunk waltzes, and slow-smokes thousands of pounds of Texas-style barbeque. An avid skier, hiker, golfer, and tandem kayaker, he makes his home in the mountains of Utah.

You can learn more about Mr. Tarbet through the Interview I conducted ahead of this book review! He shares his thoughts on Steampunk as a genre, his appreciation of Shakespeare, and a lot of keen bits for writers & readers alike!

Book Synopsis:

Immerse yourself in this Steampunk retelling of Shakespeare’s classic, replete with the newfound wizardry of alternative Victorian technology, mistaken identities, love triangles, and deadly peril, set against the backdrop of a world bracing itself for war, and Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

Pauline Spiegel, a master artificer like her mother before her, wants just one thing: to wed the love of her life, Alexander MacIntyre, a lowly undersecretary of the Royal Household. However, a long-term pact between her parents, and a noble House, stands between her and her happily ever after. When a priceless mechanoid of unfathomable power is stolen, Pauline finds herself entangled in skullduggery and international intrigue, upon which the fate of nations rest. Only with the help of her friends, and a brilliant scientist with a swarm of micromechanical insects, can Pauline survive the dark forces determined to destroy her. But will her betrothed and his rag-tag band of semi-mechanical soldiers reveal Alexander’s secrets as well?

 


To begin with a parting of prose:

A lover of quotations and bits of poetry, I am one reader who appreciated the warming of my reading palette with bobblements of poems greeting me at each interface! A lovely poem reminiscent of the innocence of fairies greets you before you reach the Prologue. And, yet another poem graces the upper corner of Chapter 1. A little nibbling of foreshadow in which I took the most delight! And off from here comes the divergence into a world of mechanisms and the air in which humanity’s door is slightly skewed towards automation. Rehabilitating veterans of war has been turnt on its heels to retrofit survivors into the most efficient entity of their trades. A fantastical yet questioningly haunting insight into how production and quantity can supersede plausibility and ethics.

Each chapter is lit with a piercing thought writ out through the hand of poets to help give heed to the next foray of intrigue!

My Review of A MidSummer Night’s Steampunk:

As I nestled into the story of A MidSummer Night’s Steampunk, I attempt to recollect if I had read the original play or if perchance, I had seen an adaptation of it instead? The corridors of my memory are a bit foggy at best, which is why I had to shift a bit of my fragmented memories and emerge into the sadistic fever of mechs who were created not necessarily for the well-being of their inhabitors but for the progression of automated industrialism as I aforesaid. The shockingly brutal rebuilding of a sentient being is off-set by the fact that the mechs do not seem to realise their individualistic freedoms have become abandoned on the whim of their creator.

The words in which Tarbet uses to create his universal pace is a pure delight to this wordsmith’s heart! He gives you a felicity of choice as you ease your way forward into the chapters which yield the most foreshadowing to satisfy your appetite for the action yet to transpire. Picking up where Shakespeare had left off is not an easy task, but to knit together a story which honours the canon and gives such a creative spark to Steampunk at the same time is a celebration of his writing style.

The forbearing inertia of caution is under-stitched into the story of the classic tale, giving a new appreciation for the choices humans have made since the Victorian age as each path chosen has turnt out a different avenue of progress. If we had opted instead to keep the heart of what Steampunk gives the reader, the age of steampower and gaslight we might have made deviations in other areas where the Industrial Revolution had yet to enlighten. By keeping Victorian technology in place, we see how devious the experiments can take inventors when their minds are wired for clockwork and automation. A little too much good for their own souls if you ask me!

At first I found it a bit tricky to ascertain how to proportionate the mech characters in my mind’s eye, as I’m quite new to Steampunk & Clockpunk alike. Then, all of a sudden whilst the mech men made their way through to central London, it dawned on me how to visualise them! From that moment forward, I had this envisioning shadow of how they were created and how they would stand out in ordinary streets of London! I think if there were illustrative plates for this particular piece it might have helped me out a bit. Character sketches to off-set the lack of baseline recognition! Except to say, Tarbet expertly gives such a vivid viewing of each of the mech’s mannerisms to purport an honest impression of how they can be perceived! I am such a visual learner that at times, when I step outside a world I’ve previously visited, I must adjust my eyes to a new one! In this, I celebrated my ability to see visually in my mind’s eye what Tarbet was attempting all of us to embrace!

A clever re-telling by far, as he has etched in such a reformed rite of passage for women in the story, where there is an alliance between Lakshmi, Jennie, and Vicky – all women of equal power and without the ambiguity of being able to blend in from behind prying eyes. For them to launch a series of events to forestall a dictator’s diabolical plans to overtake surrounding nations is one of the best moments I was celebrating! It gave way to the expression that ‘behind all good men, is a great woman’; and in this particular story it could not be more true! A separate alliance was forged out of necessity from the mech men, a wickedly fascinating engineer Pauline, her two suitors Alexander & Winston, along with a besotted in love girl named Clementine who only has eyes for Winston!

At the very heart of the story is the searing warmonger Wilhelm who is blinded by carnal rage and a robust ill-fated sense of power. His intentions for his home country is strengthened by his assertion that power and proclivity towards violent rule are his inherit gifts. A madman on the collision course towards altering history whilst utilising another madman’s offering of technology. There are moments of intense fighting and heated battle between human and mechs, and mechs vs mechs with an equaling sense of unease. Each is caught in the cross-hairs of an emerging war neither fully understands. It is only when logic is cast aside and reason is indued by a spark of enlightenment which dances straight into the vortex of human understanding can true change be cast. Free will of man and mech is the turning point towards diplomacy and democracy.

As I was reading the story, I thought this particular book would be a great lesson in ethics for a University class to undertake. There is enough within the chapters to take both sides of the argument and dissect the worth of its message. What foolish folly and provocation can be found in the nettling and maddening proclamations of one man’s dream for supreme rule.

Equality & Diversity : Undertone Components

An undertone component of A MidSummer Night’s Steampunk is the inequality of the mechs inside the story. They have become their own race of men as their lives were irrefutably altered when they came home from the battlefield and/or the hospital in which their very life hung in the balance between being medically altered through technology and death. Due to their new status of half man | half machine, they are no longer viewed as individuals outside the scope of what trade they perform based on their ‘upgrades’ towards industry efficiency.  And, therein lies the problem. Rather than being viewed as the people they were prior to the surgeries that were performed without their consent, they are no longer given the compassion of humanity by any person who crosses their path. Rather instead they are refuted from view, a mere glimpse of a hint of the ravages of war and a different age of invention.

Tarbet presents both sides of the argument giving a positive light on how restoration of a person’s self-worth, self-identity, and the living freedoms of liberty each of us is innately inherit to have is plausible if there are still those who agree all sentient life has rights to keep in tact.

Fly in the Ointment:

Although I enjoyed reading this re-telling of William Shakespeare’s “A MidSummer Night’s Dream”, there is a curious attachment in the second half of the story to bring out the full measure of Jack the Ripper’s presence. At first, the subtle nodding towards Hitler’s reign over Germany; the conquest of Napoleon through France; and the merciless tactile militant force of the mechs carved out of the unwilling criminally insane patients was taken for what each representation was given to highlight. However, for me, this stretched a bit too far into the darker shadows of the theories behind why Jack the Ripper killed and what his motivations were to hunt innocents in the streets of London. I was a bit surprised that the wielding of the alternative history components were writ as strong as they were, as the backdrop of the story which illuminated the most joy for me were the clockpunk and automation engineering technologic advances on the side of the good.

There is always a battleground arc for good vs. evil, but there are times where I feel the vile bits to highlighting said evil can inadvertently overtake the good bits. I was pleased to see Tarbet use the eloquence of Shakespeare to empathise the vocalisations of human emotion without falling into the quandary I normally express in Fly in the Ointment. No, it’s not an issue of language but rather of how far pushed the envelope felt to me for the level of violence against the backdrop of where the story was leading. Of course, all stories are open to interpretation of the reader, and I for one, felt the story was guiding me towards one passageway of an ending rather than diverting down another.

A decidedly splendid extra:

Behind the conclusion of A MidSummer Night’s Steampunk, the author’s biography & acknowledgements and a bit of a mini catalogue of titles via Xchyler Publishing itself, is a decidedly splendid extra: a preview of On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer! A book which is not yet released and an author of whom Mr. Tarbet spoke about in his Author’s Interview!


A MidSummer Night’s Steampunk Book Trailer by Xchyler Publishing

There is something magical afoot at Xchyler Publishing as their music accompaniments inside their book trailers draw your imagination into the narratives of their stories long before you pick up their books!


This book review is courtesy of:

Xchyler Publishing

check out my upcoming bookish events and mark your calendars!

I have been blessed with four spotlights on behalf of Xchyler Publishing:

An Editor Interview with Penny Freeman,

a book review of Moments in Millennia: a Fantasy Anthology,

and my Interview with author Scott E. Tarbet ahead of this book review!

I’d be keen to hear reader responses to my review of A MidSummer Night’s Steampunk, as I was happily settled into the alternative history backing of story against the clockpunk elements of automation before plunging head-first into the Jack the Ripper thread. Have you ever felt ensconced into a story-line which at a certain point in time arched into a different thread of discovery than you forethought? What do you look for within the realm of Steampunk, Clockpunk, and automation stories? What draws you in and what if anything disappoints you?

{SOURCES:  A MidSummer Night’s Steampunk Book Cover, and synopsis were provided by Xchyler Publishing and were used by permission. Author photograph & biography were provided by the author Scott E. Tarbet and used with permission. Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs.  The book trailer by Xchyler Publishing had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 12 April, 2014 by jorielov in 19th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, After the Canon, Airship, Alternative History, Automation, Book for University Study, Book Review (non-blog tour), Book Trailer, Bookish Discussions, Bullies and the Bullied, Classical Literature, Clever Turns of Phrase, Clockmakers & Watchmakers, Clockpunk, Clockwork & Mechanisations, Clogs & Gears, Debut Novel, Dirigible, England, Excessive Violence in Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Genre-bender, Good vs. Evil, Indie Author, Inspired By Author OR Book, MidSummer's Night Dream, Re-Told Tales, Steampunk, the Victorian era, Warfare & Power Realignment, William Shakespeare, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, Xchyler Publishing




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4 responses to “+Book Review+ A MidSummer Night’s Steampunk by Scott E. Tarbet (a Shakespearean re-telling)

    • Hallo Ms. Finley Jayne!

      I am so happy you’ve alighted on my blog! I jumped over to your bookish blog & found it is populated by books you check out of the library! I *love!* reading & reviewing books I check out of my own local library as well! Too wicked for words! And, your in the A to Z Challenge which is most delightful too!

      You gave me the best compliment: added Tarbet’s book to your TBR!

      I adore Steampunk myself, and with each new novel & author I come across I feel as though I understand the genre a bit better!

      Thank you for visiting!

    • Thank you for your lovely compliment! :)

      I am excited for you because its wonderful hearing that my review of “A MidSummer Night’s Steampunk” is encouraging you to read outside your comfort zone! I love finding books which push me into a new territory to read and the fact I can inspire someone else to try a book in a different style in return is wonderful! Cheers!

      Thanks for visiting!

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