PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Steampunk is a funny sort of sub-genre. The mash up of science fiction and Victorian-era pulp fiction makes for a heady mix. Despite its traditional pulp roots, books in the genre quite often dive into darker and headier territory, trying to make simple and fun things into something more adult and engaging. More often than not, this fails to hit the mark, making for an immature mess of tropes and boredom. Gaie Sebold’s Sparrow series, however, seems to get the balance spot on every-time, mixing the miserable reality of Victorian life with high fantasy elements such as fairy kingdoms, air-ships and clockwork gizmos that make the sub-genre so compelling.

Sparrow Falling is another book in Sebold’s Eveline Sparrow series. Don’t worry if you’ve not read the previous books; they’re good pulpy fun but having some background really isn’t required. This book begins with Eveline running an all-girls school called the Sparrow School. In addition to Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, the Sparrow School teaches youngster useful life skills such as security, burglary, fakery and a spot of Bartitsu. Everything a young girl needs to survive in a Steampunk world.

Of course, the course of quality education doesn’t run smoothly, and Sparrow has to take on some extra-curricular activities in order to keep the school running. Add to this the fact that her close friends (who happen to be involved with the Fairy Court) are having their own problems, and what we get is a solid (and fun) bit of steampunk adventure.

Sebold embraces the ugly side of the Victorian era, and use this to contrast the more amazing elements of her world.  This is the steampunk genre as it should be; light and dark forged into a weird mix of horrors and silliness that somehow simply works.  It’s so much fun that you want to strap on a pair of goggles (they do nothing) whilst dressing up as a refugee from an explosion in a cog factory. Fans of the likes of Robert Rankin and Gail Carriger will find a lot to love in the Sparrow series, and Sparrow Falling proves that there is plenty of life in Steampunk. We’re looking forward to the next one.


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