Title: The 7th of Victorica (Gadgets and Shadows #2)
Author: Beau Schemery
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: August 21, 2018
Genre(s): Young Adult, Steampunk, Romance
Page Count: 350 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 0 flames out of 5
Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5
After freeing Queen Victoria from the evil plans of the wizard Fairgate and reuniting London once again, Seven, still contending with the ghost of a previous enemy, is called on to turn his unique brand of problem solving to the colony across the pond, Victorica. The former free states of America have a cancer growing within: slavery, perpetrated and protected by the Confederacy of the South. A wealthy group of southern landowners and businessmen have seized power in Victorica, and rumors are flying about assembling an army and threatening war.
When Seven and his lover, Silas Kettlebent, are sent to investigate, they find the cancer runs deeper than anticipated and may be even more malignant than they’d first thought. With a ragtag team of slaves, criminals, politicians, and Abraham Lincoln, Sev and Silas must find a way to avert a civil war and, as far as Sev is concerned, free the colonies and citizens of Victorica as well.
But Sev’s indiscriminate use of magic he doesn’t quite understand has awakened another’s ire and stoked a thirst for revenge over the events in London.
The bridge section that provides a little overlap between this and the earlier book is contrived and unrealistic. One can only hope that the story itself pans out better. There is obviously an attempt to fill in the gaps for the reader, but it is recommended that the first book is read and that the second is not standalone.
As the story opens there seem to be attitudinal inconsistencies between the two books. Perhaps this is because a little time has passed, but still, it jars somewhat. The writing is in the 3rd person, which does distance the description from the individual character and that might account for the lack of empathy, but it is very difficult to grasp exactly what an individual believes as it seems to change based on context and can alter within a conversation.
The story is action-driven like in the first book. Historical characters are introduced to provide a very limited parallelism with American history and events follow a similar loose pattern, which provides some contextualisation. Character development remains superficial and it is little for the reader to empathise with. All appear to demonstrate good and bad traits that, apart from the context, make it difficult to differentiate whose side they are on. As with the previous book, there is torture death and mutilation and these are a seemingly acceptable subject matter for the young audience; characters are discarded without very much soul-searching. This is in line with the action sequences, which are presented in a rapid-fire manner that does not bear much scrutiny or have a lot of substance.
Sex is barely hinted at. After two quite long books, the closest the reader gets to passion is that one of the lead characters is described as being seen naked whilst asleep. The isolated kisses and occasional handholding are all that pass for intimacy and yet the author clearly hints that more is happening behind the scenes. It is unclear why the author believes all forms of intimacy are appropriate for censorship but life is held in such light regard.
As noted, this is an action-driven book and the pace is quite punchy. The difficulty is that the superficiality of the characters and situations make the read very light and there is nothing to hold the reader to the text. It was a struggle to get through despite the fast pace.
By the time the reader gets to the end, there is a hope that all will be resolved, but it seems there is at least another book to follow.