Paul Crilley’s The Lazarus Machine: A Tweed and Nightingale Adventure is a young adult steampunk novel that toys with the morbid topic of death. Crilley’s story is a great introduction to the world of steam engines, curious detectives, and wondrous mysteries. Crilley wastes no time in getting the reader hooked on his fictional world, which also includes mentions of Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty.
One topic that Crilley works well with in his novel is that of genders. This is strongly evident with his two protagonists, Tweed and Octavia. Octavia is a strong female protagonist who speaks her mind and follows her own desires. Tweed is a strong, yet respectable male protagonist that, unlike the other men around him, respects women enough to ask Octavia for help in his mystery-solving adventure.
The dialogue is witty, enlightening, and a successful mix of modern English and historical English, giving the book a unique twist. Crilley’s dialogue gives the novel a fun quality, making the story flow without boring, dated, or drawn out conversations. Plus, it is always a positive when a historical mystery novel adopts a dialect that is easily understandable.
The world Crilley creates in his novel is so imaginative, it is hard not to picture what Tweed and Octavia see every day. The complexities of the gadgets mentioned piqued my interest and had me wondering what our world would be like if our reality was the result of Crilley’s fictional history.
The Lazarus Machine is full of fast-paced action, gripping adventure, and an addicting mystery. The tone is often dark, thanks to the occasional mention of death and soul harvesting, but the characters try to keep it light with banter and determination.
Crilley’s novel is surprising. The reader enters the boundaries of the story expecting one experience, yet leaves with something completely different. The plot twist near the end is enough to change the reader’s perception of the book in its entirety. S/he is left trying to figure out a mystery of his/her own, just as Tweed comes closer to the answers he seeks.
I recommend Crilley’s novel to lovers of the steampunk genre and Sherlock Holmes. Also, if you’re a fan of mystery novels and strong female protagonists, then you should give this one a gander. The Lazarus Machine is a fantastic book for any reader new to the steampunk genre.