by Lindsay Buroker
Reading Grade: Adult (novella)
Publication Date: March 5, 2012
Source: review copy from author
Age Rating: 14+
Half-breed tinkerer Kali McAlister doesn’t care that the gold rush has stormed into Dawson and prospectors are flooding the north—all she wants is to finish construction of her airship, so she can escape the Yukon and see the world.
Unfortunately, the world keeps chucking wrenches into her machinery: a mysterious gambler is pumping her for information on her bounty-hunting business partner Cedar; the notorious gangster Cudgel Conrad is after Kali’s knowledge of flash gold; and a series of gruesome murders is plaguing Dawson. Someone—or something—is ruthlessly slaying tribal women, and, if Kali and Cedar can’t find the killer, she might be the next target.
- Plot: (This is #3 in a novella series.) A mysterious man is looking for Cedar and a town murderer is on the loose, killing tribal women. Cedar takes it upon himself to hunt the killer down, fearing Kali may be the next victim. Kali just wants to build her own airship so she can leave Dawson, but she never seems to get the time because people are always after her flash gold. She does get to ride on an airship, although she must go to extremes to make a special fire-rifle and rescue another tribal woman in order to experience it. What I like is that she finally got to meet Cudgel, the man Cedar has been hunting since the first novella. It lends itself to more encounters with him in future installments, I hope.
- Characters: I love Kali because she is so different from regular women of that era and even ours. She's always wearing overalls and carrying wrenches in her pockets, not caring about what she looks like. Cedar is a tall, handsome, swashbuckling hero who actually likes her, despite her being so different. At first, their romance seems to have taken a backseat, but in the end it rears its shy head. I also like this random old man on a boat who could curse his head off in old-fashioned-ese better than any character I've ever seen. “That boodle of a mother-kissing lickfinger pirates got all my cussed gold... Got me wrathier than a treed coon.” Can't get any wrathier than a treed coon!
- Technical Writing: It's always good in The Flash Gold Chronicles , never fancy or purple-prosey, but, practical and efficient. The voice is one of my favorite things because it's all Kali's. It's fun to be inside her sarcastic mind.
- Storytelling: There is a lot going on in this little story. Cedar has Lockhart after him, and Kali has to deal with Lockhart, too, and the perverted murderer, and Cudgel. All of these people have different reasons for being in the same place at the same time, wanting the same two people. It's hard to make this work in a novella, but Lindsay Buroker manages it easily. Like the other novellas, this one is high on adventure, and manages to raise Kali and Cedar's relationship up another notch. I want to see more of Cudgel now that he's been introduced. He seems like a really mysterious, intelligent villain.
- Overall Quality: Excellent. Nothing about this self-published story needs tinkering, editing, fixing up or anything like that. It's very professional.
- Favorite Moment/Scene: As much as I love all of Kali's and Cedar's romantic-like scenes, I'll say the part where she fires her makeshift flash gold rifle at the pirate on the airship is my favorite. The flames dance around in the air like nothing the eye has seen before. That was pretty darn cool, and Kali makes this rifle on-the-fly and under pressure. The girl is steampunk's answer to MacGyver.
- My Score: 5 out of 5 stars.
*I received this title from the author in exchange for an honest review.