The Boxcar Baby by J.L. Mulvihill
[Book One in the Steel Roots series]
Published by: Seventh Star Press, 12 July 2013.
Official Novel Websites: The Boxcar Baby Blog & The Steel Roots Facebook Page
Converse on Twitter: @JLMulvihill & #boxcarbaby
Author Page: @ Seventh Star Press
Artist Page: Matthew Perry @ Seventh Star Press; Portfolio
Available Formats: Softcover and E-book
Page Count: 274
Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a stop on “The Boxcar Baby” Virtual Book Tour, hosted by Tomorrow Comes Media. I received a complimentary copy of “The Boxcar Baby” in exchange for an honest review by the publisher Seventh Star Press. The book released on 12 July 2013. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. This marks my first stop as a Tour Host for Tomorrow Comes Media!
Inspired to Read: Nearly all of my best ‘finds’ for the science fiction realms have been serendipitous in nature! You see, if I hadn’t been roaming around the bookish blogosphere a week ago, I might not have seen a curious little tour badge with “Tomorrow Comes Media” on it! Nor would I have suspected to click over to scope out the tour company and the authors that they represented! Had I not kept an open mind towards discovering ‘something!’ curious and unexpected, I might not have known about this author and book! This was the same way I had stumbled across “The Clockwork Carnival” in August , the forthcoming “Sci-Fi November” (of whose badge is in my sidebar; my post on it coming the first week of October!), and the mere fact that I had chosen this particular Autumn to serve as a gateway back into a genre that my heart first came to know at the age of seventeen! I lay claim to that as my starting ground into the ‘literature’ side of things, but you’ll have to come back for my “Sci-Fi November” postings to learn the full story of how I’ve been happily consuming all-things sci-fi for the well full of my life!
As you may or may not know, it took me a bit to resolve what to read as my ‘first’ Steampunk selection, as much as I became attached to this revolutionary genre where the lines blur on what a story can attach itself into being, and jettison the reader off into such fantastical realms and worlds, that it nearly takes your breath away! Some aspects of Steam are subtle, others are full-on adventurous catalysts to transport you into a world bent on steam technology! I love the vitality of choice!! Therefore, when I saw a blog tour announcement for this story, I knew I had found my ‘second’ Steam novel and author!
Be sure to read my poster advert for this tour to glimpse my motivation to read “The Boxcar Baby”.
Synopsis of the Story:
Notations on Artwork & Design:
In this particular day and age, where book cover designs are based more upon stock images and less on the artistically creative book cover designers, whose original artwork is all but lost; I must confess, what impressed me the most about this book, was the diversity of art, and the choice of which scenes to illustrate! I have always held a special place in my heart for illustrators, as they are encouraging our imaginations to jettison us off to that internal place where all stories live inside our hearts! They enable us to help stitch together imagery and scenes, that we may or may not, have been able to visually conceive on our own.
They create a tangible palette in which the scope of the story is percolated through a lens similar to a motion picture’s storyboard, yet instead of having the ‘images’ set to fluid motion by ‘camera’, we get to expand on what is being presented and wholly enter the realm of the literary unknown! Almost as though we jumped through hyperspace and entered a completely new dimension!
Such is the happenstance adventures of readers everywhere, who are given such a breadth of light by artwork that co-creates the story by which the author first conceived!
Mr. Perry’s first image seen on the left of the unidentifiable ‘person’ holding what appears to be a container or a particular ‘type’ of something that comes with a sling strap for your shoulder, is bang-on accurate to the descriptive narrative that Muvihill supports in Chapter 8! This scene takes place at a train yard at night, in a discernible city of hidden suspense! What I liked about this snapshot of the character being brought forward into AB’Gale’s life at this moment in time, is that it shows that she is never going to know who or whom is going to cross her path! She’s set alight on a course where the most unsuspecting people she encounters, might hold ‘key’s to where she is headed next!
This is a metaphor for life as well, because its most oft known that the people who come to your aide or give you guidance are generally not always the ones you think will be akin to provide the information you need! No, actually in life as in stories, its the people you might overlook that provide the best advisers who help guide you on your path!
There was a second illustration that I was going to include in my review, but the chapter in which it was revealed has left me wondering why this particular thread was inside the story!? Of all the chapters, Chapter 54 was by far the most horrific!! I was not expecting a nose-dive into the realms of gruesome horror, yet that is the twist of a turn this story took at that junction! I would rather bypass it, and focus more on the main thread of story, by which, I enjoyed the most!
In regards to the cover art itself, a sense of urgency is playing out before us, as the locomotive is on fast approach, with a heightened sense of foreboding intensity! The gnarled and curling of the trunk of the tree, nearly reflects a sense of “unyielding twists of time and place”, as a curious hinting that the train can act as both a conveyor of people and goods, but also of destiny. I had been lamenting upon the visual symbolism of including the ‘tree with the train’ in full sight of the reader,… yet at the conclusion of the story, where I was expecting to arrive at a clarification of the symbolism, I was left instead with a questionable ending!
In total, Mr. Perry supplied 2 illustrative plates to give The Boxcar Baby a highly unique periscope into the lifeblood of the Steel Roots! His perception and understanding of the narrative is spot-on! And, I commend his artistic eye as much as his conveyance of the emotions, heart, and climatic moments of the evolving story! Even if I didn’t agree of the story shift, the illustrations honour the context in full! IF I could have picked one scene to be illustrated, it would have been of the girls’ new wardrobe, which hearkened quick to mind everything that I simply adore about Steampunk couture!
I look forward with whet anticipation of which Seventh Star Press novel I might encounter his brilliant artwork again! He’s truly an asset to the writers whose novels are published with the Press!