Thieves, mages, and miniature golems run afoul of each other in this charming novella set in a steampunk fantasy world. Coppelia is an orphaned puppet-maker trying to eke a living through pickpocketing and other petty crimes in a grimy, overpopulated city where the ruling mage-lords grind the common folk beneath their heels. Aiding her are two peculiar companions: tiny wood-and-metal homunculi known as Tef and Arc, part of a homunculus delegation sent from their homeland to grow their number and create more of their kind. When Coppelia and her mentor, Auntie Countless, investigate a possible golem on behalf of one of the local robber barons, Coppelia winds up in the clutches of a dangerous evil beneath the city, and it’s up to the homunculi to save her. The result is a series of capers that involve unlikely alliances, a good dose of steampunk body horror, and some pointed commentary on what makes people human. Tchaikovsky (Walking to Aldebaran) makes expert use of the novella form to tell a self-contained story, and the dashingly roguish cast, clever prose (“Now the tethered [fireflies] battered and buzzed about... like a maddened candelabra”), and well-placed moments of heartfelt emotion are sure to delight. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 06/27/2019 Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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