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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

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Lady Mechatronic and the Steampunked Pirates by Arabella Wyatt

Lady Mechatronic and the Steampunked Pirates - Arabella Wyatt

This story and I did not start off on the best footing, although I tried not to let that affect my opinion of it. When I first purchased it, All Romance Ebooks listed its word count as 184,420. Although I had never read anything by Wyatt before and had no experience with Devine Destinies, the book's description made it sound like a fun, fast-paced adventure, and $3.99 seemed like a nice price to pay for something of that length. You can imagine my shock when I opened up the file on my Nook and saw that it was only 44 pages. I contacted ARe, which tried and failed to get in touch with Devine Destinies and finally just corrected the word count on their product page using the info from the Devine Destinies site.

Although the description had seemed fine for a 184,420 word book, it seemed too busy for something that was only 18,442 words long. Sadly, my concern turned out to be justified. This could have been a much better work had every last bit of it been fleshed out more. Most of the characters were little more than a name, a job title, and a “good” or “bad” designation. You could tell the “bad” characters by their willingness to profit from slavery and their tendency to threaten to rape anything female. The “good” characters were, of course, anti-slavery and loyal to Hartwell, whose one vice was his absinthe addiction.

The shallow characterization was part of what allowed the story to move at such a brisk pace. Unfortunately, that brisk pace did not translate into “fun” and “exciting.” Even the action scenes were weak and unexciting. It didn't help that I realized pretty quickly that the publisher's description had basically told me the whole story. There were no surprises, other than the specific abilities Hartwell and his crew members gained. The story's structure left me feeling like I'd just read either an in-depth outline or the introduction to a longer work.

There were so many problems with this story.

  • The insta-love between Hartwell and Mechatronic was eye roll-worthy, particularly when you consider that, for Hartwell, it began when he was holding Mechatronic's skeleton. That's not horrifying at all, no siree.
  • When Hartwell's sister was first mentioned, I wondered what kind of idiot would bring his sister with him to hunt pirates. Then I realized that Susanna was basically only there so that she could prove the Bad Guys' badness by giving them someone to threaten with rape.
  • All the villains are cartoon bad guys. All of them.
  • There's a bit of head-hopping, particularly in the beginning of the story.
  • The attempts at humor left me cold. Readers were expected to laugh as Hartwell's new crew members introduced themselves. Those crew members were: a stone-deaf sailor; a little person who listed his experience as gunnery crew and who therefore had difficulties with every aspect of his job; a huge, scary-looking cook who had a squeaky voice and no fighting ability; a girl pretending to be a boy, badly; and Lucky Pete, who was considered lucky because the cannibals didn't get a chance to cut off his penis, although they got just about everything else. Wyatt seemed to be going for an over-the-top, Janet Evanovich-style humor, and it fell completely flat for me. Part of the problem was that I felt uncomfortable about being expected to laugh at incredibly unfortunate individuals. Another part of the problem was that the attempt at wacky humor didn't seem to fit with what the story had been like up to that point.
  • At one point, Ruby, a drunken serving woman who throws herself at Hartwell so that readers can laugh at her and Mechatronic has an opportunity to feel jealous, is held hostage. Except it's almost like she's not in the scene. She's barely mentioned as the two sides talk, no one seems concerned about her safety, and it's easy to forget she's even there.

 

This story maybe had potential, but it needed a lot more work before publication. I don't know what Devine Destinies does for their authors, but clearly editing isn't part of the package. While I don't remember seeing any typos, every other aspect of the story needed improvement. Even the formatting was shoddy.

Lady Mechatronic and the Steampunked Pirates appears to be the first story in a series of at least four works. I have absolutely no plans to read the rest of the series and will do my best to avoid any other works published by Devine Destinies.

 

(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)