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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Book Review: A Latent Dark

A Latent Dark
Why no real cover?

In the steampunk novel A Latent Dark by Martin Kee, eleven year old Skyla barely escapes as the house of her mother is burned down. A hunt begins with Reverend Inspector Lyle Summers trying to bring her in to save his church, while Skyla tries to find out what happened to her aunt.

I was positively surprised by this book. It starts out seemingly as a standard witch story, but soon diverges from the normal expectations. In particular, the author manages to created a unique steampunkesque world while telling the story, mostly without delving into infodumps. The world just unfolds while you read the story. This was very well done.

There were a few things that annoyed me, though. A few sections did not advance the plot fast enough, making it laborous to get through them. The author also over-uses deus ex machina resolutions. They do, eventually, have a coherent explanation in the story, but during reading, too many dramatic situations are resolved by unmotivated semi-miracles. And finally, a pet peeve of mine. Stories with a strong fantasy flair should try and avoid modern physics as the main explanatory point. Explaining magic using a modern understanding of subatomic physics just kills immersion for me.

Other than that, a well-written and an enjoyable read. Recommended.