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Here There Be Monsters (2011)

by Meljean Brook(Favorite Author)
4.23 of 5 Votes: 1
review 1: Setting: the Blacksmith’s lab; Ratcatcher Row; Star Rose Inn; ship Vesuvius; Port Fallow; Fool’s Cove; Anglesey; Theme: How to make love work… with a woman who doesn’t know your heart, and in a world that needs to see you as cruel…Characters:Eben ‘Mad’ Machen: captain of the Vesuvius; fought alongside the Iron Captain, and destroyed the tower that the Horde used to control Londoneers; now pirating the seas, freeing slaves captured by the Black Guard; in London, daily went with his quartermaster to the Blacksmith who was fitting him with new arms… and Blacksmith’s assistant, Ivy, used her skill, and her humor to help his quartermaster – he is considering how to court her;Ivy Blacksmith: grew up in the crèche; arms replaced with chimneysweep arms; during... more the last Frenzy before freed, she was caught in a chimney while her mates mated, so still a virgin; after freedom, worked for the Blacksmith, and is quite smart and inventive; he gave her new arms/metal skin, and she has paid him off herself with her work; she is smart, practical, compassionate; she is panicked and will leave London at any cost when she wakes up frozen, unable to move because men with a portable tower have frozen all in her apartment, coming into her room, removing her clothes, leaving her there, but many were taken before morning (she was left because of her blacksmith tattoo – they are afraid of the Blacksmith); Lady Yasmeen Corsair: Machen’s friend; sees Ivy as a weakness to him and she interferes;Barker: quartermaster; needs limb replacements; is her friend when Machen catches up with her;Netta: seamstress; hiding from Machen, she and Netta open shop in Fool’s Cove, only access via airship; they are friends, and just able to make enough to live on;Summary: When Ivy realizes the only ship going out is Mad Machen’s, she goes to him to ask for passage; he doesn’t have the words, so stumbles into an agreement where she will share his bed for the duration of getting her anywhere not London; he intends she will trust and maybe love him before the end of the trip; goes to Blacksmith to pay off anything she owes, not wanting Blacksmith to track her… and finds out she is debt free; returns to find she has disappeared – Lady Cosair has taken her away – wanting to remove a weakness, and detour at a time he is committed to go to the Ivory Coast on a mission… and she sends some of his injured men to her with horrid stories of his exploits, and to any one who would listen…Two years later, Machen shows up in Fool’s Cove – to collect on her agreement, and because Iron Captain wants her services; She takes half of her coins – 8 – and goes with him. He insists she sleep in his bed, and he has no intention of raping her, but the first night, she offers a coin that he not touch her, and he takes it – giving her back a measure of power. He shows her the job… a tank with fish and a squid, a small mechanical squid, and plans of a giant squid – to fight the Krackens, and an offensive weapon; he takes her around the ship… and over the next week, she sees him for the first time… they sleep together each night (7 coins gone), they eat meals together… and when she is starting to trust him, but gives his last coin, he offers to let her earn it back – with a kiss… and she sees them attack a ship, and free slaves taken by the Black Guard… and knows the truth, not the rumor…and for the next week their physical intimacy grows… she figures out how to get the model squid to work, she tells him she won’t have sex with him because she could not risk getting pregnant – even though he has condoms… because she doesn’t know the future… and he realizes that she doesn’t trust him yet to take care of her, to be sticking around… she stays on island, he goes out on further taskReturning a month later, she is triumphant as she has built said mechanical squid… and there is a happy reunion (she plucks him off the ship, and carries him inside the squid)… she wants to have sex with him (she can care for any offspring, she built a squid) – and there is a great gentle, passionate initiation into sex… and again, Lady Corsair reminds them that he will appear weak if she stays with him… he dejectedly leaves her… she thinks… she must appear to be as mad as he is – staging a fight, where she shoots his metal foot… and threatens his penis (he responds – then I will force you to graft on a new one. Perhaps something smaller, that you can take more easily.)… and he tosses her over his shoulder, and takes her back to his ship… ahhhhMemorable scenes:Yasmeen tells him: “Both your ship and this blacksmith are better protected when everyone thinks that you only seek her because she cheated you. You’ve made destroying the Black Guard your crusade, but your first duty is to your men – and there are too many lives at stake for Mad Machen to become softhearted Eden… Then choose who you will be. You can’t be both.”“Perhaps Lady Corsair got by using her balls. Ivy preferred her brains…Mad Machen’s reputation could only be built through stories, thoughaction… and it took years… Love, money. None of it changed the problem of reputation. Mad Machen saved people for coin, not because he cared. He chased a woman because she’d cheated him – not because he loved her. And the woman who stayed would have to be… would have to be… She’d have to be mad.”
review 2: I read this as part of the Burning Up anthology, and it is funny to see that I had commented way back when that I wasn't drawn to steampunk, because Brook is actually the one who made me a convert. I am now a steampunk fan for the twisted histories. For me steampunk is sort like historical UF. My original review ..."Here There Be Monsters" - Meljean Brook - I am a huge fan of Brook's Guardians but this story was something completely different - a prequel to Brook's upcoming Steampunk series. I am not really drawn to the steampunk genre but I liked this story, even with the odd flavor that the world out of time gives the tale - Victorian trappings mixed with technology, which Brook calls "historical sci fi". The action and the inventions were fun but I especially loved how smitten the hero was with the heroine and how patient he is in his courtship - boy, she makes him suffer. I will definitely be checking out the rest of the series. less
Reviews (see all)
Loved Ivy! Loved Eben! Loved the peek at Yasmeen! I'm pretty sure I've fallen hard for this world.
I love this series! Great world building. Never realized that I like steam punk either...
Simply excellent! What an imaginative and wonderful story!
In Burning Up anthology - good read
4.5 stars
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