Dreggers Deep by J Rocci

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.


  • I haven’t read this story yet, but J. Rocci has a steampunk story in the Someplace in this World anthology that I dearly loved, called Oilsmouth, and it features mercs. I’m wondering if Dreggers Deep is a related tale. You’ve got me curious now, Kassa. I’ll have to check this out, and soon.

    • Oh! Thank you! I didn’t realize that Eden and no doubt they’re related in some way so I’m definitely going to have to pick up that anthology. If you liked that story then pick up this one..

  • Whoa — I started reading the blurb with the increasing impression that this was a realistic drama, perhaps set in the coal mining terrain of Kentucky or Pennsylvania (or maybe Wales — I wasn’t sure about the overseas part), and then I reached the sentence introducing the sky pirates, ha, ha!

    What a bold idea — to do a steampunk as part of this charity sips collection when most authors are going to be doing contemporaries. Even if the length is too short (and what a challenge, right?), I’m still looking forward to reading this.

    • I actually thought it was Urban Fantasy for a while at first. It’s a bold idea and probably more than can fit into the short story format but interesting still.

  • Great review Kassa! I LOVED the descriptions in this story. But I agree–not enough room–I felt like I’d opened a book up on page 35 and shut it just as I was getting started. I didn’t understand the introduction of the mercs in that opening scene, when they never come into play in the rest of the story–a lot of page room lost, unless the author plans to expand the story.

    But even so—some really cool story building–wish it would have led into a whole story, I’d certainly have stuck around 🙂

    • Yep you summed it up exactly. It’s like picking up a story in the middle without the proper context. I can’t really understand why an author would introduce characters that don’t affect the story *at all*. I can only think it’s meant to be some kind of series but not very well executed unfortunately.

      Great concept.. bad delivery. I kind of think the author should have just written the longer novel then.

  • I’m not going to read these reviews yet since I haven’t got there. I swear you guys must have started reviewing in the exact reverse order I did because I think there’s only been one so far that I’ve read. LOL

    • hahah of course! Well I’m glad you’re enjoying the anthology at least and if you get to these stories let me know what you think.

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