The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper is a recent addition to the ever growing library of steampunk novels. And a very worthy one at that.
The times are Victorian and we find ourselves in a London ruled by Victoria and her Albert. The clockwork plague has swept the world, turning people into zombies left and right or worse: mad geniuses known as clockworkers.
In this background the tales of our heroes unfold. First we meet Alice Michaels, the young daughter of an impoverished baron who has seen her fair share of suffering thanks to the plague. She is torn between fighting free of the societies strict bounds set for the aristocracy and her desire for a quiet life with a quiet husband. Whom she hopes to find in polite society.
The next leading character we encounter is Gavin Ennock, four years Alice’s junior and cabin boy on an airship doing respectable business. When change comes knocking in the form of sky pirates, his life takes an unexpected turn.
It sounds like the cover of a bad dime store novel but let me assure you, it does not all come down to a maiden aunt playing matchmaker, clockwork style. Not only does this book have all the classic elements of a steampunk story — epic clockwork devices, giant robots, mad science and airships (which may or may not be crewed by pirates) — it also has a great plot, characters with actual personality that were well thought out and are brilliantly portrayed and a good sized amount of secret society action and romance thrown into the mix.
This all adds up to a wonderful adventure that will no doubt delight readers looking for a good steampunk adventure. I would especially recommend this to fans of zombies or mad science although I’m pretty sure most steampunk enthusiasts will enjoy this book.
I know I’m looking forward to the next installment in this new series.