The Steam Magnate is published by Aio, a small press specializing in what they call "books that stir your soul". I can't say that The Steam Magnate stirred my soul, but I can definitely say that I found this book to be absolutely amazing.
The story takes place in a unique blend of science fiction, real world, and fantasy, put together into what I can only call obscure steampunk. The elements of steampunk are there, but they are almost intentionally made so they don't devour the story. Copithorne has managed to develop a world that is surreal and real all at the same time. The elements of fantasy are kept to a level just above what would be called magical realism, making this world seem so much like a Victorian age Earth, with some modern attachments.
The summary: Kyra is under orders to search for a man who possesses something of great value to the Heiress--certain documents that hold great sway. But the man she's searching for, Eson, is no ordinary person, and so she too finds herself under his influence. She's strangely attracted to him and as she becomes entwined in Eson's world she finds herself struggling to understand who she is and the the world around her.
possesses unique abilities that allow him to bind people to him so that he can use them to his advantage. Some love him and others wish to see him imprisoned in the same home left to him by his ancestors. After recovering from a disastrous relationship, he meets Kyra and as his affections for her increase, so too does his realization that the challenges taking over his life are a little too close to home.
To put it simply, this work is stunning. Copithorne's prose is superb. It's fluid, powerful, and gripping. I found myself dragged right into the world and unable to escape. This is prose to look up to, in my opinion. This is also not your typical story. While it flirts with the lines of science fiction and fantasy, it isn't a story of adventure, but a story of characters. The focus is on Kyra, Eson, and Jado (a character I didn't mention in the summary), and how they are affected and influenced by everything that goes on. Taken into account that this is a highly literary work, The Steam Magnate never ceases to be beautiful in its creation.
One criticism I think is that perhaps some of the characters feel a little under developed. Kyra is painted clear, but there could be a little more of Jado to give the reader more cause to care. I personally found Jado to be very interesting, but at the same time I feel as though we didn't get to know him well enough. This may be more personal opinion though. In any case, the book is a must read. It was absolutely enthralled with how Eson seemed to almost be a vampire-like character. He reminded me of Dracula, only charming and less creepy--oh, and no sucking blood. His powers are not grandiose, but so very limited that the character himself has to expend considerable effort to even use them. I think this is a rather brilliant idea that diverges from other fantasy.
The short version of all this is: pick this book up. It's absolutely beautiful and I intend to cherish it. Aio is looking to be a fantastic small press publisher that we should all be looking out for.