I must say, out of all of the derivatives of Pride and Prejudice variations that exist in this realm (yes, also including the erotica variety), I never thought I’d come across a steampunk version. When one thinks of steampunk, one envisions gears, motors, and mechanical technology that are as far removed from the refined halls of Pemberley as one can get. However, such is the beauty of the Pride and Prejudice variation subgenre: anything that can connect to the original work, no matter how slight it may be. It is up to the reader to decide whether or not such a connection was warranted in the first place! So, it’s no surprise that I was quite intrigued when given the chance to review Steampunk Darcy by Monica Fairview. I just had to know how such juxtaposition would work out.
William Darcy has a special fondness for his ancestors, the very real Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley. Although it has been many years since they lived, Mr. Darcy comes upon a unique opportunity to immortalize their beloved Pemberley as it once was after the current version of it was destroyed during a great uprising. Now, the world that has arisen from these ashes is that of a steampunk variety, and Darcy’s Pemberley is a blank canvas he can work with to restore its former glory. He hires Seraphene Grant, an expert in restoration (who also happens to own a blimp-like airship), in order to assist with the project. Although his intentions seem genuine, Seraphene is cautious towards Darcy’s actions, and she intends to steer clear of anything that isn’t strictly related to the project. Will she be able to hold back in this new world or will Darcy’s mix of tradition and steampunk creativity get the best of her?
I have to admit, this book started off really slowly. However, at the expense of plot advancement, Fairview took a lot of time to build a wonderful steampunk world which drew me in immediately. Fairview’s descriptions of this world, which in and of itself could have been its own novel, were definitely on point. The beautiful combination of industrial age technology (the “steam” references the steam-powered engines which were the workhorse of this era) and the sci-fi aspects of this dystopic world were amazing. I love how the theme also adds Victorian-era flair, making the world even more magical. Unfortunately, the inventiveness of the steampunk environment could only keep me entertained for so long. I was slightly confused by some early portions of the work, as the characters mention the Uprising and past events that occurred before the book’s plot in detail. I felt as if I was reading the second book in a series that I had not originally started. This created a disconnect that took a few chapters to get over and get back into the swing of things. The Hunger Games and For Darkness Shows the Stars (other dystopic novels I have read) gave the reader a description of events (fairly early on) that led to the novels’ worlds becoming dystopic. I think had Fairview expanded upon the Uprising and the need for Citiships and biodomes, and where slime rain came from, I would have been more able to ease into the plot of the story. So much is unknown to the reader but known to the characters that it creates a divide.
Despite this downside, I really enjoyed the slowly- building relationship that Darcy and Seraphene experience throughout the story. It was their chemistry and development from animosity to friendship to ultimately love that really drew me in and saved this book for me. Both seemed to definitely be reminiscent of the Elizabeth and Darcy who influenced them to begin with, with added character traits that made them their own individuals. Seraphene is a resilient, intelligent, and strong female lead. Darcy is kind (albeit with a slight temper), smart, and funny. The two characters were extreme compliments of each other which made the relationship storyline that much more exciting to read. I also enjoyed Fairview’s incorporation of original Pride and Prejudice characters such as Mrs. Bennet, who was represented as a shrill cat, which added a fair amount of humor. So, if you’re a fan of sci-fi and have enjoyed steampunk-themed movies or other works in the past, Steampunk Darcy may be right up your alley.
3 out of 5 Stars
Steampunk Darcy, by Monica Fairview
White Soup Press (2013)
Trade paperback (328) pages
Cover image courtesy of White Soup Press © 2013; text Kimberly Denny-Ryder © 2013, Austenprose.com