Meljean Brook has created one of my favorite steampunk series with the Iron Seas. And in no small part that's because this series is accessible to both genre fans and readers who don’t normally go for stories set in this re-imagined Victorian era. Brook's series started with The Iron Duke, which won the October 2010 RT Seal of Excellence. The story was followed by November 2011’s RT Top Pick! Heart of Steel. And now the author has just announced that the series third, Riveted will be available this Fall.
This upcoming story's heroine is Annika Fridasdottor, an airship engineer. But that’s not all she does, according to the author Annika’s engineering skills are also put to work “in a troll’s belly.” Oh just, you know, working in a troll’s belly ... Right, RIGHT?!? And although it is unclear if this "troll" is of the animal or mechanical variety, I think we can all safely assume that Annika is going to be a fairly kick-butt heroine. A quick glance at her on the book cover makes it clear that this heroine does not put up with much horsing around. She’s got a guarded look on her face, like she’s ready to cause some serious damage with her ... okay, so I’m not quite sure what that is in her hand, but whether it’s a rapier, a jumper cable (or something that I simply have no knowledge of because I prefer to leave the fighting to my heroines), I do know that it’s not an object I’d want to have her use against me!
Annika aside, what do we know about Riveted's hero? He’s part man-part machine, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg (foreshadowing: I do it). The maybe someday Mr. Annika Fridsdottor’s name is David Kentewess and in addition to be part steel and inventions — check out his crazy lens/eye and his metal hand — he’s also a vulcanologist. (He studies mountains that blow up, not the “live long and prosper” vulcan Spock. It’s a steampunk remember? Spock hasn’t even been created.) But the one thing that we know that is perhaps more important than David’s physical composition or the fact that he’s into geological formations, is what David knows. We know that he knows that Annika has a secret — and it's one that he’s determined to uncover.
And he's right on the money, because the publisher’s description of the tale reveals that Annika is keeping a little something to herself. She knows what is really going on in Iceland. (Are you following? We know that he knows that she knows something, and now you know what it is that we knew she knew.) Anyways, more than a century ago, an eruption in Iceland forced many people to evacuate, and the country has since become “enshrouded in legend.” But if you’re feeling all mystically “ohhhh, ohhh, ohhhhey,” cut it out. Because the publisher's blurb goes on to reveal, “the truth behind the legends is mechanical, not magical—and the mystery of the island a matter of life and death for a community of women who once spilled noble blood to secure their freedom.” And it just so happened that Annika accidentally might have leaked the country's secret five years ago, but instead her sister took the heat and was sent far from Iceland's icey shores — so in addition to trying to keep her country's secret, Annika is also searching for her missing sister.
Meaty, meaty plot, that’s for sure, but let me tell you, it gets even better. Brook has revealed the the story’s setting is, “Iceland, mostly. Near a volcano.” And I feel that this is cleverly represented if you take a quick look behind the leading couple on the book’s cover. It’s all blues and whites, which, although I’ve never been to the country, certainly seems like an apt way to depict “somewhat mystical (but not really) Iceland.” However, there is more to this tale than the cover can hint at, except that it kind of does with the way these two characters are en guarde! And according to the last line of publisher’s blurb, these characters have a very good reason to be keeping their eyes open. What does it say? “David and Annika stranded on a glacier and pursued by a madman, with their very survival depending on keeping the heat rising between them—and generating lots of steam…” Remember my foreshadowing? Iceberg(!) and also, Annika’s “back off” stance! Doesn’t it all make sense now that you know they are trying to protect themselves from a madman? (Hint: Yes, it totally does.)
There are two other things that I want to mention before I keel over in a state of cover reveal glee. First, it’s worth noting that this is the first book in the series with a hero and heroine on the cover, an excellent move on the part of the Berkley Sensation team. The first book had a very distinctively steampunk cover and series second cover moved more into “pirates on the high seas of steampunk” territory, so I am excited to see yet another look for the series. And the other thing that I simply can't sign off without pointing out is Riveted with the rivets right above it? Genius! The only thing that’s not perfect about this whole situation is that we have to wait until September 4, 2012 to get our hands on the book.
So I want to know, what do you think of this Iron Seas cover? Tell me in the comments below. And for more genre coverage be sure to check out RT's Everything Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Page!