If there's no other genre I love, it's alternate history/steampunk. Why? It lets us dream about what could have been had we chosen another path. And one of the most recent masters of alt-history lit is Ekaterina Sedia, who I've been hearing nothing but good things about. Her newest book, "Heart of Iron" does not disappoint, and if you like historical fiction and/or sci-fi, you should definitely give it a read.
One thing that Sedia does well (to put it lightly) is immersing her readers in the scene and characters. I've never been to Europe, much less Eurasia/Russia, yet I felt as if I were right there with Sasha, Jack, and the rest. Her prose is lush and gorgeous, and so comfortable that it's like one of those old couches that you've worn a butt grove into that you're loathe to leave after you sit down. It sucks you right in, and you don't want to leave.
However, one of the pitfalls of the novel early on is that there is a bit more telling instead of showing than I could tolerate, but that was soon fixed as the novel went on. I guess, in an alt-history book a certain amount of telling is something that can't be entirely avoided, so I will give that to Sedia. But at least it's not ALL telling, and once we're with Sasha in school, the telling stops and the showing goes into glorious overdrive.
And then there's another added element which she kind of sneaks in under the reader's nose - the paranormal. Paranormal in alt-history and steampunk genre books isn't at all rare, but the way Sedia wove it into her story was so subtle, I actually had to go back and reread a small portion to catch it. One of the problems with being an aspie is to over-notice things, and the fact she got it by me is an achievement in of itself. And the best part? It's not overbearing, nor is the budding romance between two of our heroes (I won't say who, that'd spoil things), which made me extremely happy.
In short? Sedia is an author not to be missed, nor is "Heart of Iron" a book you should ignore. It's awesome. It has something for everyone, and isn't derailed into any one genre or market for gender, age, or nationality. It includes everyone, and it felt great to be so welcomed into a world of words.
I definitely now want to go back and read anything and everything Sedia's written so far, you can be sure of that. She's a quiet voice in sci-fi/fantasy genre lit, but she deserves far more attention than she's getting. So if you want something new and awesome, try out "Heart of Iron", and savor the difference between this story and all of the others told so many times before.
(posted to librarything, goodreads, shelfari, and witchofthreatregoing.wordpress.com)