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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A vibrant dark and intoxicating alt-universe
The premise of Moonlight, Murder and Machinery had me hooked straight away. I'm extremely inspired by anything vaguely steampunky, mostly because of the works of Pat Mills and Bryan Talbot on the "Nemesis the Warlock" stories from 2000AD but since then, the genre has exploded and now Steampunk is more popular than ever.

But with this book we have "A gothic...
Published 23 months ago by Peej Maybe

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3.0 out of 5 stars Confused reader.
Like some of the characters it contains this story is a mash up of genres - part adventure story, part historical, part science fiction, part horror, with a smattering of romance. It dabbles. Aimed at children it is full of descriptive language, concise and suitable for the younger person, although a little clichéd at times. It moves along at a fair pace to keep...
Published 14 months ago by Fiona Gowenlock


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A vibrant dark and intoxicating alt-universe, 12 Aug 2012
This review is from: Moonlight, Murder & Machinery (Paperback)
The premise of Moonlight, Murder and Machinery had me hooked straight away. I'm extremely inspired by anything vaguely steampunky, mostly because of the works of Pat Mills and Bryan Talbot on the "Nemesis the Warlock" stories from 2000AD but since then, the genre has exploded and now Steampunk is more popular than ever.

But with this book we have "A gothic re-imagining of the Frankenstein story, set in a steampunk regency England where Steam has been outlawed" and it's very easy to see why I had to take a look at this book, after a description like that.

The story begins when young Mary Godwin, a woman troubled by recurring prophetic nightmares, meets the man who haunts her dreams, Master Shelley (Mary / Shelley? Got it?)

Shelley is a young recruit to His Majesty's Geomancers, a mysterious army of talented individuals that sound like a cross between the British Warlocks of Ian Tregillis' "Bitter Seeds" and Victorian "X-Men". Investigating mysterious deaths and reports of horrific creatures stalking the night, Shelley's counter-intelligence unit uncover plots and treasonous acts that threaten to undermine the very fabric of Nova Albion. As the events of Mary's nightmares unfold, she begins to fear for Shelley's life.

While I won't give away too much of the plot, there are so many elements to this book that tick all the right boxes for me. I loved the descriptions of the Luddites - now flipped on their heads from being machine-hating labourers to poor jobless folk clamouring for a lift of the ban on steam power. I also loved that the book touched on Ancient Briton and the mythos surrounding sites like Avebury, and the deep dark secrets buried under Cornish soil (I'm sure my brother in law would be intrigued by the descriptions of subversive Cornwall, renamed Kernow and boldly flashing its independence from Nova Albion).

Above all, this is a book for fans of alternate histories, nefarious human experimentation, gothic romance, mysterious phenomena and for those who secretly believe that magic still bubbles away under the surface of our verdant British soil.

I've read several YA books (despite apparently being 'old enough to know better'), and I'm intrigued by the notion that somehow "Young Adults" need a separate sub-set of fiction that stretches between children's novels and 'stuff for grown ups'. I firmly believe that "Moonlight, Murder and Machinery" offers a level of sophistication and substance that lifts it above most adult fiction, let alone the sort of fare you'd expect to comfortably fit into the YA pigeonhole. It delves into history, twisting it like a pretzel but still offering enough hooks for readers to go off and investigate the Regency period in more detail. It offers fantasy escapism tinged with darkness and menace, and above all it speaks of the lure of power and the lengths that mere mortals will go to in order to hang onto it.

Tearing through it just once doesn't really do it justice, but second time around I'm delighted by Catton's knowing nods and references to other gothic works. I hope this isn't the last we see of Catton's Nova Albion, it's such an intriguing intoxicating world and there's a ton of scope for more stories woven from the same threads found in this book.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Partial But Honest Review., 30 July 2012
This review is from: Moonlight, Murder & Machinery (Paperback)
I must confess an involvement here. I drew the cover. But as I don't make any money on the book sales I feel I can give an honest review

JP (an old mate of mine) is an English author based in Tokyo. In M,M&M he has created an alternate Regency ( think Jane Austen or Patrick O'Brian) period England called "Nova Albion."

History diverged from our own with the discovery of the latent power of Ley lines. Harnessing this natural force allows the nation of Albion to skip the industrial revolution and develop advanced technology based on using teleurethic energies. As use of the new technologies spread so does the incidence of psychically endowed individuals. Some of these powerful individuals find their way into a life of crime. Others are recruited into the Flintlocks, the Kings Men, who's duty it is to defend Albion and protect the land from the black technologies of the steam age descending upon Europe.

Against this backdrop is the story of Mary Wollestonecraft, a young lady of the aristocracy. She is tormented by dreams of a beautiful young man in mortal peril. The man is Percy Byshe Shelley, a powerful new recruit to the Flintlocks and when they meet it is within the context of a series of great perils besetting Albion and a nefarious genius with whom they have a dramatic collision.

Although the book is billed as for young adults, like all good YA books it is in fact accessible to all readers of any maturity. JP keeps the pace rollicking along with witty dialogue and believable characters. The "magic" of Nova Albion is strange-yet-familiar enough to be accessible and the spin off technology moves along with the plot nicely.

Altogether JP has put together a charming and ripping yarn which will be accessible and enjoyable to all readers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Steampunk in a realm where steam is outlawed, 26 May 2013
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This review is from: Moonlight, Murder & Machinery (Paperback)
"Moonlight, Murder & Machinery", as a shopping list title, doesn't really convey the cornucopia of retro-future pulp weirdness permeating this steampunk Gothic romance. A more accurate, if longer title, might be: "Moonlight, Murder, Machinery, Militias, Monsters, Mystics, and Machiavellian Madness".

The story is set in Nova Albion, an early-19th-Century Great Britain warped almost beyond recognition by the rediscovery of Druidic energy. It's a fairly progressive society, governed by paganism, psychics and alchemy, where machinery is outlawed, relegated to the sinister 'Thermidorian' empire across the Channel.

Our heroes are the Red Branch, a team of psychically-gifted military investigators charged with unravelling a complex conspiracy involving body-snatchers, an undead highwayman, the son of Benjamin Franklin and a young woman's prophetic nightmares.

You'd imagine a world so complex would require a tremendous amount of exposition in the early going, but the book isn't front-loaded with info. Instead, we're plunged straight into the action, with the rules and mythology of the land filled in along the way. It makes for a demanding read, but ultimately a rewarding one for those who are prepared to stick with it.

The book is obviously born out of a love of Gothic literature, with references peppered throughout (the names of the protagonists, for example, are "Mary" and "Shelley"), but it never feels like a parody. The world is so well-drawn, so intricately detailed, that it rises above its inspiration, feeling fresh, original and exciting. As genre-mashing tributes go, it's certainly far superior to the likes of the cynical 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' and its depressing brethren.

(Those who are especially concerned about such things will also be delighted to hear that it's both well written and very carefully edited, with fewer grammatical or spelling errors than you'd find in most mainstream publications.)

I know there are a whole lot of steampunk romance fans out there, searching for something you can really get your teeth into. You'd be doing yourselves a favour to grab a copy of this as soon as you can.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Clever and a bit twisted, 19 May 2013
This review is from: Moonlight, Murder & Machinery (Paperback)
This is an interesting mix of victorian Gothic, alternate universe and lots of clever literary references. It is a world where real poets such as Shelley are drafted into an army using paranormal powers like telepathy and telekinesis as weapons and a society which rejects machinery. It would reveal more to the reader on a second reading, and I should think that this alternate reality would have a lot more stories in it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Confused reader., 19 May 2013
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This review is from: Moonlight, Murder & Machinery (Paperback)
Like some of the characters it contains this story is a mash up of genres - part adventure story, part historical, part science fiction, part horror, with a smattering of romance. It dabbles. Aimed at children it is full of descriptive language, concise and suitable for the younger person, although a little clichéd at times. It moves along at a fair pace to keep readers' interest engaged although I failed to connect with either of the main characters. As romp through an alternative regency England it's ok, as a romance it falls flat. As it labelled itself a gothic romance I was hoping for more but being aimed at younger readers they probably would be glad not to have any icky stuff.
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Moonlight, Murder & Machinery
Moonlight, Murder & Machinery by John Paul Catton (Paperback - 12 Feb 2012)
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