Monk’s entrance into steampunk is a tour de force. In an Old West threatened by an exiled fae who feeds on blood and pain, strange nightmares are made of gears, bone, black magic and matics that cannot be killed, only dismembered. However, only a few recognize the danger. An exiled witch, a cursed changeling, a foundling and a thrice-dead man are all that stands between mankind and chaos.
To most, Shard Lefel is a dapper railroad tycoon with a gift for spellbinding oratory, but for those who can smell the Strange, he is darkly nonhuman, and he is bringing the railroad to Hallelujah, Ore., which might just save the town from extinction. But strange things come with the matics that are laying the rails. Cedar Hunt is semi-tolerated by the town, valued for his skills as a hunter, but always under suspicion. There is something about his eyes that makes people nervous. The only ones who don’t mind him are the Madder brothers, crazy drunken miners, who spend most of their time in tunnels, finding silver in some unusual places. They are very private people too. Rose, the foundling taken in years ago with poor grace by the storekeeper, can see that neither Cedar nor the brothers are quite what they seem, but they don’t stink of the Strange, so they are fine by her. Mae Linstrom knows something has happened to her husband; she can feel it. With her vow to Jeb broken by death, she is being pulled back east by earlier bindings. But she will not go until Jeb’s killer faces justice and she will use everything at her disposal, magic or otherwise, to find the true killer and take him down. Jeb knows who killed him, and he is not going to stay dead until he protects Mae, no matter how many times he dies. All these lives are about to intersect. (ROC, Jul., 352 pp., $15)