Today if we wish to change the world, it isn’t magic but science that will give us our tools. – Orson Scott Card
I think if Charles Dickens were alive today and had the opportunity to re-imagine Oliver Twist into a Steampunk/Fantasy/Alternate History adventure, he might have rewritten a story and characters very much like the ones in The 7th of London. Whether it’d have been as good, though, is anyone’s guess. But the story probably would have been cast in a very similar sort of London, where the haves and the have nots are separated not only by their social standing but by a wall that’s been built to divide the city and keep the Blacksiders and the Fairsiders from ever having to mingle.
I hate to throw around terms like epic, for fear of it becoming something that no longer means grand and extraordinary and special, but there’s no other word I have to describe Beau Schemery’s debut novel. This book is epic. It is grand and extraordinary and special and overflowing with imagination and charm and characters that I fell madly in love with—and cried for when they were sacrificed for the greater good.
The year is 1865, the United States of America has died in its infancy and is back under the rule of Great Britain, London’s waifs are being systematically abused as cheap labor by the sweatshop tyrants, and Queen Victoria is being controlled by an evil wizard who is on the brink of becoming King. There was never an American Civil War, but there’s definitely a social war brewing in the undergrounds of London, where a rebel uprising to rescue the Queen, and save Great Britain herself, is being plotted by a remarkable inventor and the very children who have been fortunate enough to escape their tormenters. And Seven will soon find himself an instrumental cog in the machine of that rebellion.
Seven is a seventh son, branded so and knowing no other name, he is an orphan who lost his family at the hands of the cruel and evil Fervis. Sev is a young man who lives by instinct and his own code of honor, learned at the often brutal knee of need and survival. And in some cases, vengeance, as he longs for the day he can make Fervis pay for the abuse he heaped upon Sev and his family.
If necessity does indeed breed invention, it also breeds alliances, and it’s some of those alliances Sev forges that make this book so utterly fantastic. Characters like the mercurial and frequently unpredictable but always intriguing villain, Jack Midnight, the undisputed Prince of Blackside; William Wrathsbury, the third Duke of Sutherland; the mysterious Mr. Kettlebent; the prickly but entirely loveable street urchin, Rat; the young prostitute Anne-Marie; William Waverly, Sev’s best friend; the inventor of amazing clockwork devices, Hephaestus Kildeggan, and his apprentice Silas; and some wholly unexpected real life characters, Michael Faraday and Nikola Tesla, who were also along for the journey. And that’s just to name a few. It’s an eclectic and charmed mix of personalities that come together in a singular adventure, one that I can’t recommend highly enough for fans of Steampunk.
Am I gushing yet? I’m gushing. But sometimes a book comes along that I get so excited about I can’t even help myself. This is that rare book, the one that makes me want to say, “Wow. Just… wow.” It’s a story of suffering and sacrifice, of love and unrequited love, of incredible loss and, in the end, hope. It is noble and noteworthy, and I can’t begin to put into words how much I loved it.
**If you’d like to learn a little bit more about Beau Schemery, be sure to visit his BLOG to see the character artwork he created for the book, which includes the book’s cover.**