REVIEW SUMMARY: A fast-paced, addictive steampunk fantasy adventure.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Octavia Leander is sent to the war-torn frontier to cure its dying inhabitants with her healing powers. However, the enemies of Caskentia want her for themselves, and Octavia’s queen would rather see her dead than in their hands.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Well-drawn main characters; fast-paced, exciting narrative.
CONS: Secondary characters and much of the back-story could have been developed further to enhance the primary tale.
BOTTOM LINE: The Clockwork Dagger is a skilfully-woven tale, complete with a love-story, an elaborate conspiracy, and a fascinating magico-spiritual healing system.

Apparently, I’ve been a fan of all things “steampunk” for years, but I never knew it. At least, not until a year ago, when it all came together that my love of old technology, dirigibles, funky corsets, and the words “engine” and “gears” landed me squarely in the steampunk camp.

I set out to learn all I could about the various incarnations of steampunk aesthetics, and paid special attention to its development in contemporary fiction. That’s when I came across Beth Cato’s debut steampunk novel The Clockwork Dagger, and jumped on board that airship without so much as a “toodle-loo.”
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MIND MELD: Words We Learned from Genre Fiction

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

This week we asked our participants to talk about Words they first encountered in genre

Q: What interesting, new-to-you words have you first learned or come across in your genre reading?

Here’s what they said…

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Cooking the Books with Fran Wilde and Beth Cato

Author Beth Cato joined Fran Wilde on Cooking the Books podcast to celebrate her debut from Harper Voyager, The Clockwork Dagger.

You can read the first chapter of The Clockwork Dagger at Tor.com.

The ingredients for Cooking the Books podcast #004 – “The Clockwork Kitchen: Cooking the Books with Beth Cato” include:
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Beth Cato resides in the outskirts of Phoenix, AZ. Her husband Jason, son Nicholas, and crazy cat keep her busy, but she still manages to squeeze in time for writing and other activities that help preserve her sanity. She is originally from Hanford, CA, a lovely city often pungent with cow manure. Her debut novel is The Clockwork Dagger.

Beyond Historical Fiction: Fear, Fantasy, and How I Came to Steampunk

by Beth Cato

I was eight years old when I fell for historical fiction. Laura Ingalls Wilder was my gateway drug to endless hours of medieval romps and pioneer adventures. I hungrily sought out all the Rosemary Sutcliff and Patricia Beatty books to be found.

Beatty’s books–in particular, her Hannalee books–pulled me into a stint of fascination with the American Civil War. In 5th grade, I won the school district’s annual library essay contest, writing that I wanted to grow up and write books about the Civil War, maybe even from a horse’s viewpoint.

In my teens, my interest turned towards fantasy, but my desire to write historical never went away. For years, I entertained the idea of writing an epic fantasy based heavily on the Inquisition. I would write a page or two and browse books on the subject matter, but I never made a serious effort.

The reason: fear.
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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

Sure, we’d all like to own a Quidditch broom or a crystal ball, but what magical item would you want the most? That was our esteemed panel’s challenge this week. Next week we ask a new set of panelists about their favorite SF devices.

Q: What magical item, artifact, weapon, etc., from the world of fantasy fiction would you most like to own? Why? What would you do with it?

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MIND MELD: Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2014

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

It’s a new year and you know what that means…new book releases! So with that in mind, we’ve asked our panelists the following question:

Q: What upcoming book or books (to be released in 2014) are you most looking forward to reading? Why?

Here’s what they said…
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