Title: Dreggers Deep
Author: J Rocci
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Steampunk M/M Romance
Length: Short Story / 45oo words
Rating: 3 out of 5
A guest review by Kassa
Tulley is the head of security for the most influential business man in Oilsmouth. His latest assignment from the boss is to escort the company’s new doctor down to tend to the miners of Dreggers Deep. Unfortunately, Dr. Edmund Peniwill and Tulley have a history. Edmund left Tulley behind to attend medical school overseas, with no request for Tulley’s input. But Tulley isn’t the type to hold a grudge, even if he’s not sure what he’s currently feeling. Life in Oilsmouth isn’t easy, though, and a brush with sky pirates soon has the two resolving a few issues.
Dreggers Deep is a fun short story that touches on a bit of world building, introduces the characters, and gives a happy ending. It’s too short to really create meaningful characters though and they are the most forgettable part of the story. What shines is the interesting setting more than anything.
The story is a steam punk setting, which is the most interesting part. I actually thought maybe this was urban fantasy at the start but soon there are enough details and obvious nuances that it’s more steam punk with a Wild West edge. The world building takes up most of the story as it crafts an eye catching world with numerous possibilities. There are several characters introduced in a very short amount of time so perhaps the author is planning on doing a series of short stories within the same ‘verse.
The two men that star in this particular offering are decent but totally forgettable. There isn’t enough time or space in the short story to establish such an intricate world and develop characters with a strong chemistry. Tulley has more interest since the story is told from his perspective but he still comes across as bland since there’s just not enough of the story to give him any depth. Edmund is so forgettable I kind of wished Tulley had been with anyone else. They supposedly have a history but there is no real emotion behind it and the two shack up again easily and without much drama.
The best part of the story is by far the world building and I think steam punk is a difficult genre to cram into such limitations as this. Something has to suffer and in this case, the characters and romance certainly did. There is the new setting to create, a large cast to introduce, the errand to run, sky pirates attacking, and finally the romance and happy ending, which take up mere sentences of the short story. Overall it’s not a bad story and the writing combined with interesting glimpses of characters and setting create the most interest but the romance is pretty anemic unfortunately. I’d be interested in seeing something more developed and longer length from this author and would really love to see some of the other characters that were mentioned.