Unseemly Science by Rod Duncan
While I usually try to get these reviews out before the book launches, (and I was really excited for this book) this one unfortunately didn't get me all that jazzed. It was a case of hype bringing some expectations that cannot be fulfilled. I was extremely impressed with The Bulletcatcher's Daughter (which you can read the review for over here) last year. The fresh steampunk aspect of not overly mechanized storyline with the charm and adventure of travelers made an unforgettable story. I was hooked from the beginning. Naturally I was pumped to get the advanced read of Unseemly Science.
However, this second novel seems to have struggled from some dishonest beta readers. The pacing just seemed off the whole time. Someone was not honestly saying whole chapters of this book slogged down in useless byline. I struggled to build a solid picture of what was happening and how the different angles were fitting together. The whole thing needs a helping hand in continuity editing. By the end of the book, I found the writing style that excited me from the first book, but to get there--roller coaster. Duncan's beauty of creating an intriguing mystery seemed to suffer from too many threads. The major characters don't have their usual snappy interactions.
I have not completely lost faith that the next book in the Gas Lit Empire will come back to what I love. I saw it in the final chapters of Unseemly Science and hidden amongst the filler narrative. I cross my fingers that the travelers come back with the levity and adventure that can bring.
I give this novel 3 stars. Read it when you have some down time, but maybe wait for the third novel instead. Completely your choice.