Review: Death in the Age of Steam

Published Categorised as Writings, Book Reviews

Death in the Age of Steam
Death in the Age of Steam by Bradshaw Mel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I acquired this awhile ago, maybe during Toronto’s Word on the Street when publishers have those last-minute fire sales before the festival ends. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf for ages, but the time came that I needed a break from gritty modern-day British crime and to snooze awhile in 19th century Toronto.

Well, okay, I didn’t snooze. But this book isn’t gritty or realistic either in the sense that everything must be depressing and dour and all despair and cocked up. Instead, it has suspense, romance, history, adventure, and interesting characters. The romance part is central. The protagonist of this tale Isaac Harris is a true white knight. He lost his love to another man, but when she goes missing, he’s the one who hares off searching for her. His search takes us travelling north, south, east, and west of Toronto and into all manner of modern-19th-century conveyances. His conflicts give us a hint of politics pre-Confederation style. And the characters cover every strata of society. Some of the characters, in fact, are so well drawn, that I had to find out if they were real, based on real people. Nope. But they continued to seem like real.

Death in the Age of Steam is a good romp, as they say. My only objection to this book is the exposition. I know, I know, exposition is very 19th century. But this was written in the 21st century for 21st-century readers. We get bored. Fast. Exposition is good and needed at times, but is not so hot when dialogue suddenly turns into exposition. It confuses the reader as well as deflating the conflict or emotion between characters that the dialogue had been creating. The exposition-instead-of-dialogue got entirely too much, and I have to admit, I skipped a few bits just so that I could get back to the action. But all in all a good tale with a good ending. Definitely liked the ending!

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