I did not realize how badly I needed steampunk cowboys and Tesla trains in my life. The author of Blue On Black took me on a ride to a new horizon with this one. She favored Tesla’s studies in directing energy (electricity) over the more familiar use of steam mechanics, which was fresh and exciting.
Second, she had onion-layers of complexity. Her villain peeled back into something even more horrifying than I was anticipating. Her quirky, cranky inventor had rock-solid motivations buried deep beneath his veneer of scientific oddity. Her hero, who was the primary point of view, had to keep his cards close so his mission’s cover wouldn’t be blown while he was surrounded by a den of criminals in the frontier village of iniquity… yet in his head he saw himself as a pulp hero saving the day. Each of these and more peeled back slowly in contrast to the bursts of danger and action.
If I could have asked for anything, it would have been an appendix. The author’s world had several meta-sciences, called “techs” by those who used them. It was a bit confusing to have to extrapolate the meaning of what KineTech was while reading. It didn’t lessen my enjoyment, but I would have liked to flip somewhere for a quick description.
Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable and fresh take on the fusion of steampunk and the Wild, Wild West!