cover image Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl

Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl

David Barnett. Tor, $14.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3424-4

Barnett gleefully blends Victorian-era characters with steam and clockwork technology in a “steampulp” romance of supernatural adventure. In quiet Sandsend, young Gideon Smith dreams of adventures like those of pulp hero Capt. Lucian Trigger, as faithfully transcribed by Trigger’s friend, Dr. John Reed. When Gideon’s fisherman dad disappears at sea amid a string of bizarre events, visiting Irish author Bram Stoker blames vampires, but wandering mummies appear instead. Gideon sensibly heads to London to consult Trigger. Along the way, he teams up with Maria, a beautiful clockwork woman whose human brain is powered by a mysterious artifact from an ancient Viking longship, and tenacious reporter Aloysius Bent. Although Trigger isn’t exactly the “robust adventurer” of storydom, he’s got enough gumption to whisk Gideon and the others off to Egypt to find the missing Reed and stop a vast evil conspiracy. With sky pirates, gibbering frog-faced hordes, and nods to historical figures both real and imaginary, Barnett doesn’t miss a trope, and even readers who don’t usually love steampunk will gobble it up. Agent: John Jarrold. (Sept.)