For the first post today, I am reviewing The Brass Queen by Elizabeth Chatsworth, which was released on tuesday by Camcat Books.
Disclaimer – I received an e-arc via netgalley in exchange for an honest review
In 1897, a fiery British aristocrat and an inept US spy search for a stolen invisibility serum that could spark a global war.
Miss Constance Haltwhistle is the last in a line of blue-blooded rogue inventors. Selling exotic firearms under her alias, the ‘Brass Queen,’ has kept her baronial estate’s coffers full. But when US spy, Trusdale, saves her from assassins, she’s pulled into a search for a scientist with an invisibility serum. As royal foes create an invisible army to start a global war, Constance and Trusdale must learn to trust each other. If they don’t, the world they know will literally disappear before their eyes.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this one. On the one hand, I love steampunk and the premise intrigued me, on the other hand, I wasn’t sure how heavy the romance was going to be (something I rarely read). However, while the romance wasn’t my favourite part of the story, more down to one of the characters than anything else The Brass Queen turned out to be a fun read, with humour weaved throughout. Sometimes humour can also put me off a book (I am ridiculously fussy when it comes to humour and comedy), but I liked the banter and the moments that were in this book and felt that it really did lift this book to another level, and there was more than one point where I found myself laughing out loud.
This was not the easiest book to get into, partly because of the writing style and because the pacing is rather slow in the beginning, and there were a couple of points where I almost put it down completely. However, I am glad that I persevered because once I was a few chapters in I found myself hooked. Chatsworth’s writing once you’ve got used to it is engaging, and she has created a wonderful alternate world as a backdrop to the story. There were a few places here and there where I would perhaps have enjoyed a little more depth to the world-building, especially with the steampunk element, as it felt a little superficial at times, whereas I prefer steampunk worlds to have that element woven throughout everything rather than as an almost aesthetic level that was present in this book, but it was still well-imagined, and I would be keen to spend more time in this world.
The characters were not my favourite part of this book, or rather Constance wasn’t, which is why the romance fell particularly flat for me in this one. There were moments where I enjoyed her attitude and her sass, and her interactions with Trusdale were fun in places, but her general attitude and personality just rubbed me up the wrong way. Even taking into account her upbringing, she was almost too haughty for the role she had, and it was hard to see why the other characters – especially the love interest – were so taken with her, and unfortunately, it felt as though there was little to no growth for her throughout the book. Trusdale was a much more likeable character, with a much more rounded personality, and you had to feel for him at times dealing with Constance’s demands.
This was by no means a bad book although it does have flaws, and I did have fun reading it, and there were more than enough twists and intrigue to keep me hooked. I feel that some people – perhaps with more of an inclination to romance – will really love this one, and like I said it was entertaining and made me laugh, so a much-needed read for this year.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about it.