Title: The Lazarus Machine
Author: Paul Crilley
Series: Tweed & Nightingale Adventures #1
Genre: Steampunk, Young Adult
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
An alternate 1895… a world where Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace perfected the Difference engine. Where steam and tesla-powered computers are everywhere. Where automatons powered by human souls venture out into the sprawling London streets. Where the Ministry, a secretive government agency, seeks to control everything in the name of the Queen.
It is in this claustrophobic, paranoid city that seventeen-year-old Sebastian Tweed and his conman father struggle to eke out a living.
But all is not well…
A murderous, masked gang has moved into London, spreading terror through the criminal ranks as they take over the underworld. as the gang carves up more and more of the city, a single name comes to be uttered in fearful whispers.
When Tweed’s father is kidnapped by Moriarty, he is forced to team up with information broker Octavia Nightingale to track him down. But he soon realizes that his father’s disappearance is just a tiny piece of a political conspiracy that could destroy the British Empire and plunge the world into a horrific war.
Why did I read this book? I was looking for a good steampunk adventure recently and went I was offered this one, I couldn’t pass it up!
Source: ARC provided by the publisher.
I picked this book up in the mood for something fun, set in a historical setting and with lively characters. This is exactly what I got. This is the story of Sebastian Tweed and Octavia Nightingale, young adults who cross paths as they search for their kidnapped father and mother, respectively. Together, using logic, cunning, and spirit, they hunt down the devious villains and try to save the entire British Empire from certain disaster.
This is a steampunk novel set in Victorian London and I found that while I have read books in similar setting (Soulless, The Iron Wyrm Affair), this one does manage to stand out. I was very intrigued by the technologies: there steam power but also Tesla power (electricity) and primitive computers created by Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. The technology is expanded to create a futuristic Victorian era that you don’t always see so fully developed. Personally, I loved the inclusion of computers and programming. The book does adventure into more fantastical elements such as automatons that run the energy of human souls, cloning and other fascinating innovations. It might sound like a lot and it is, but it all works nicely together.
Another aspect I loved was how other stories we know and love were intertwined into this one. Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes, even Dr. Frankenstein is mentioned. This is a world were all these characters are real and play a part.
Everything is brought and held together by the main characters, Tweed and Nightingale. Tweed is the rationale, heavy-thinking type and Nightingale is the fiery spontaneous one. Both are equally awesome. The best part is how they interact together; I was often laughing at the turn of their conversations. I also was pleased that they didn’t get into an immediate romance but you do feel some attraction there between them.
Overall, this is an ultra-fun, highly action-packed adventure that is compulsively readable. I found myself flying through the pages and rooting for Tweed and Nightingale the whole way through. By the end I had quite the shocker that I didn’t see coming which made me all the more impressed. I hope there is a sequel planned as I will be definitely reading it!
Want to know more about this book? Read my interview with the author, Paul Crilley!