It is 1895. The place is London and the world is powered by steam, Tesla power, and the disembodied human souls that provide energy for the automatons that roam the streets and buildings. The government, while still ostensibly headed by the Queen and the Prime Minister, is really controlled by a secretive agency known as the Ministry. It is a world where many things are not quite what they seem.
When 17-year-old Sebastian Tweed’s genial con-man father is captured by a masked gang, Sebastian turns to a colorful group of friends to help him get him back. There’s the strong and fearless Octavia Nightingale, who is the same age as Sebastian, a couple of charming thieves, and an 11-year-old technical wizard. It doesn’t seem the most likely bunch of heroes but in this world it is the unlikely that is most likely to happen.
With The Lazarus Machine, Paul Crilley provides us with an exciting steampunk adventure full of sharply defined characters, hair-raising situations and strong, resourceful young people. The book will appeal to young readers and older readers alike.
The plot is full of twists and will keep you engaged and guessing what’s coming next. There are no slow parts. The pace keeps you eager to keep reading, making it a fast and satisfying bit of escapist literature. And it includes Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty in the most unexpected way of any story I’ve ever read.
The Lazarus Machine is the beginning of a series of Tweed and Nightingale adventures and leaves at least one major story line unfinished, so we can expect to see more of Sebastian and Octavia and, hopefully, their supporting characters as well in the next books.
When steampunk set in England is done best, it captures the feeling of the Dickensian era while still incorporating fantastic alternate technology. It is not easy to blend the two convincingly, but Crilley has done the job admirably. This book would make a great gift for teenagers or a good read for yourself. If you are new to steampunk, this one could get you hooked on the genre!