Book Review: Retribution Falls

So, a daemonologist, a smuggler, and an Archduke’s heir walk into an airship—oh dear, you haven’t heard this one before, have you?

Retribution Falls is, like much of its steampunky brethren, strange above all else. The good sort of strange, mind you, but strange none the less. No lizard people, but airships abound (because how else would we know it was Steampunk? The goggles would make no sense!), magic and daemons are in the air, and money is the name of the game. Money is, after all, the driving focus of this novel, given that it’s a tale of a crew of smugglers.

Enter Darien Frey, captain of the Ketty Jay—a ship he loves above all else. Even his crew. Or his passengers. Even…well, alright, money would probably give it a run for it. He’s a man that would look a thief in the eye and tell him to go screw himself rather than turn over his precious ship—even if it meant getting some of the (expendable) souls around him iced. His crew? Much the same in temperament. But what do you expect? They’re a crew of bandits, smugglers, and lowlifes of the lowest rate.

No, I mean it, the lowest rate. They lack success, luck, and the money that goes with it. They barely have the money to keep flying but—you guessed it—with the dawning of the book, is the dawning of an opportunity: the job to end all jobs. Like any “job”, though, a hero (alright, anti-hero) isn’t about to get off without a hitch—and in this case, the hitch involves explosions and false charges of murder. Whoops. Welcome to fame (sans fortune) and a top spot on the number one most wanted list! Toss in a fugitive daemonologist for flavor, a desperate need to prove innocence, not to mention a seasoning of dark humor, and what you’ve got here is a real winner.

Does it have the depth you know I love? Alright, well, not in its entirety, but it strikes a decent enough balance for a book as outright fun as this one. Character development does abound, characters learn from past mistakes, and as quick as you can swallow this bit of literature, it’s rare that you actually feel left wanting over its course. No info-dumps will weigh you down, so it’s a speedy read.

Also: there is daemonism. Daemonism magic, to be exact, which is a sort of outright fantasy mixed with pseudoscience, and used just enough to tease one’s interest without giving enough away to truly pick apart. What’s more: it’s magic with a downside! Not all powerful—and that’s just the sort of magic I like.

Basically, Retribution Falls is an amusing package that fires on almost every cylinder: fast-paced action (including airship action, which is always glorious), rampant piracy, and characters with humor—and, well, character. In the words of a terrible song? I like it, I love it, I want some more of it. This is how you steampunk.

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