I continue with the Steampunk Proper Romance series. This time, a beautiful young woman with long golden hair is whisked off to a tower in Romania by her mysterious uncle to help her supposedly crazy twin sister.
Hazel Hughes has spent her life believing she is a Medium—someone who can talk to ghosts. But as of yet, that skill has remained frustratingly elusive. She is also suffering from a reoccurring childhood dream of someone who looks almost exactly like Hazel, but this dream version of herself is slowly going mad.
Sam MacInnes is a talented surgeon who runs in the highest social circles thanks to his family’s position and history. When Sam hires Hazel to assist him with his medical practice, he is immediately drawn to her intelligence, wit, and beauty.
How did I come by this story? It’s the same as always happens. I was at work doing a boring task and wanted to listen to something entertaining. I got lucky when I took a chance on Nancy Campbell Allen’s Beauty and the Clockwork Beast. The synopsis made me think it would be similar to the paranormal romance series I read last year — Fairwick Chronicles by Juliet Dark, which is set in the present day at a small college in upstate New York. The stories aren’t similar, but I’ve enjoyed both and am glad I’ve read them.
Beauty and the Clockwork Beast is a historical fiction novel inspired by the Beauty and the Beast fairytale. The story is set in Victorian England (but women, especially our narrator, exercise some independence) in a world that has certain technological advancements (such as airships and automatons) that give the story a strong steampunk quality. It is very atmospheric, has a strong gothic vibe, and features several supernatural creatures, such as werewolves, vampires, and ghosts.
Watching the movie before reading the book seems the best way to go. I first tested this theory with Beautiful Creatures. I enjoyed the movie so much that I forced myself through the first pages of the story to discover a book I enjoyed. Again, the theory proves true for Vampire Academy. The movie was entertaining and Zoey Deutch, who played Rose, was funny (after reading the book, I realized that she did a great job of capturing the character).
Rosemarie “Rose” Hathaway and the princess, Vasilisa “Lissa” Dragomir, are best friends connected by a one-sided psychic bond that allows Rose to access Lissa’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences. They attend St. Vladimir’s Academy, a boarding school for vampires (moroi, the good vampires) and their guardians (dhampir, half-vampires that protect the moroi from strigoi, evil vampires). When the novel begins, Rose and Lissa have been on the run for two years. St. Vladimir’s is no longer a safe place for the princess so Rose, who proclaims herself Lissa’s guardian, hatched a plan to ditch school and seek protection in the wide, unknown world.
It took me a while to work up an interest in this book. I first watched the movie and because I enjoyed it so much, I decided to read the book. Unfortunately, when I first attempted to read it, I put it down almost immediately. I enjoyed the prologue but when the story began, I found the voice too dry to bear. But after reading The JK Review’s review of the novel and movie, I decided to give it another try and be patient. It paid off.
I read this book a while back so the details of the story are a bit foggy but here is the gist of what I do remember. Beautiful Creatures is told from the perspective of Ethan Wate, a teenager in his junior year of high school. He resides in Gaitlin, a small town in the South Carolina, which he hates because he finds it too backwards. He can’t wait to escape its borders and explore the wider world. In the meantime, he escapes through books. He is an avid reader on account of his late mother being a librarian. When the story begins, he’s been having weird dreams of a girl and hearing a strange song on his iPod in the mornings. Soon the girl he sees in his dreams turns up at his school. She is the new girl in town—Lena Duchannes, niece of the town’s shut in.