Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter (The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire #1)" by Rod Duncan

The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter features the kind of crossdressing I heartily endorse. It's cleverly done to avoid the semi-dystopic authorities, and the heroine doesn't always look the perfect hero (I'm looking at you, The House of Four Winds). Also, there isn't much romance to speak of, sometimes making the book more focused on the story, a label which applies to this book.

Steampunk is not a new genre for me, but the steampunk books I've read (halfway through) before have generally turned me off the genre. Victorian soul I may be, but I've found a lot of steampunk is hard to follow, or so filled with useless gadgetry it irks me. I appreciate that The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter doesn't use steampunk apparatuses to excess.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life—as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus. But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better…'

In some ways, this reads like a spy novel. Elizabeth is excellent with her disguise, and a lot of effort goes into keeping the illusion of her brother and herself alive without the anyone noticing. In the private detective brother persona, she also has to keep on her toes and be largely unremarkable, as well as quick on her feet if anyone suspects anything.

This is set in an alternate history type of world, where some countries are very sexist (there is a weight limit for the appropriate amount of undergarments and women can't own businesses), while others almost look like late 1800s England (and one of them kind of is- the Kingdom of England and Southern Wales). Because of the circumstances where she lives, Elizabeth risks much for the income of her double life.

Elizabeth reminded me a lot of Kate Daniels (of Magic Bites) because she is alone in the world and relies heavily on her instincts. The situations she gets herself into can be comical, especially when dealing with a certain man (her kind-of-sort-of love interest).

I think what kept this from being a five-star read was, despite my love of the heroine, I didn't connect with her emotionally- the best books for me make me laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. Although The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter was positively delightful, there was a certain depth of the characters that was missing. If you like alternate history and espionage-themed books, I recommend this one to you.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars for my favorite steampunk book I've read so far!

Content: Ages 16+ for violence... but I noted no other vices. This is book is halfway between YA and NA in terms of age group interest.

Page Count: 384 pages

Kindle Ebook Format Errors: There are several instances of run on words with no spaces between them, but as far as I noticed, no spelling/grammar issues.


  1. Cross-dressing? Ok you sold me on this book with your first sentence :D

    1. I know, I know... I'm love cross-dressing elements in my fantasy too.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Miriam!
      ~Litha Nelle


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