Brass and Bone by Cynthia Gael was a pretty good one-third of a story. The only problem is that I was expecting a whole story. A fairly short whole story (I knew the book was only 86 pages) but a whole story nevertheless.
What I got was a decent beginning to something. And then an abrupt “Epilogue”. Simon, one of the two point of view characters says that he feels like he’s fallen into a “penny dreadful”. Fallen into is right. And just as suddenly dropped out of.
Brass and Bone started out as lovely Steampunk. Two secret agents, one clearly a guttersnipe raised above his station, the other a Lady working considerably out of class, stealing secret plans and fantastic machinery for Queen and country from, and for, mad scientists. Airships fly overhead and steam men ply the streets alongside horse-drawn carriages.
Did I mention that Simon, the raised-up guttersnipe, has been in love with Abigail, the Lady of the piece, for years? And that she seems to be totally clueless in the matter?
But in addition to Simon and Abigail, there is a second plot involving Cynara and Henri. Cynara is a witch and Henri is an agent of the Witchfinder General. The Witchfinder General seems to also be a corporation known as WFG, Ltd. A very rich and influential corporation.
There is clearly some backstory about WFG, Ltd. from Gael’s previous work, Balefire and Lodestone, and Balefire and Moonstone. But due to the brevity of Brass and Bone, the backstory wasn’t in evidence here. There was just enough to tease, but not enough to satisfy.
When the two stories join things both get interesting, and get too involved to wrap up in the 86 pages available.
Escape Rating C-: I liked what I got, but I’m incredibly annoyed. This was really the first 7 chapters of a much longer story. I want that longer story. At least, I want to know when the rest of it is coming out. I expect novellas to have beginnings, middles and ends, not just beginnings. I was just starting to really get into the story when it stopped. The rating would be higher if I could find an announcement anywhere of when the next installment was coming out! Grrrr!