Author: Alexis Hall
I’m beginning to believe that Alexis Hall is incapable of writing anything that isn’t completely wonderful in some way or other. Or in many ways, as is the case in Prosperity. As an ardent fan of most everything Steampunk, as well as having thoroughly enjoyed the author’s other works I’ve read to date, I was excited about this title even before I was offered the chance to review it. That it exceeded all my expectations was an added bonus, and being able to lose myself so fully in the narrative was a rare delight.
While the gist of what’s going on in Prosperity can easily be ascertained without any extra work, I do recommend keeping an online dictionary open while reading, particularly if you’re American, as a good bit of what Picadilly says is Victorian era slang (or something close to it). The small effort of doing so will make a difference in connecting with the character, and as remarkable as Picadilly is, he deserves nothing less. Plus, it’s fun. In fact, my ever-increasing list of odd phrases in need of resurrecting (which I’ve renamed “Antiquated Insults, Slang, and Other Questionable Pleasantries”) has doubled in size from reading Prosperity alone.
Picadilly, the main character and narrator, is an absolute wonder. Having never been accepted by anyone in his own life before, he accepts everyone else exactly as they are, even if he sort of hates one of them. He feels no compulsion to dissect the experiences and natures of his companions until they fit into tidy little boxes to suit some misguided, and frankly, unfair, order of his own devising. He may not comprehend the others in his company entirely, but, natural curiosity aside, Picadilly doesn’t need or want to. He seems to figure that things are as they are because they are, and that’s good enough.
The other characters in Prosperity are no less impressive, each of them providing a distinct voice, at times discordant, depending on which perilous event they find themselves facing, but all utterly irreplaceable. Now that I’ve been introduced to the crew of the aethership Shadowless, I can’t imagine the story unfolding without any of them. Each one is unique in both virtues and vices, except perhaps the excellent Byron Kae, who may be my favorite of them all, Picadilly included.
In addition to the characters and the story itself, there are plenty of other things I loved about Prosperity, Mr. Hall’s ability to say exactly the right thing through his characters being only one among them. Picadilly has a disarmingly smooth and genuine way of expressing many of both the best and most universally frustrating things about being human—for example: those moments when you can absolutely loathe someone, yet still understand them. In fact, the entire book is peppered with simple, lovely, glittering thoughts, such as this one:
“I saw a cove once blowing glass, and if I was inclined towards religiousifying, which I ain’t, I might’ve said twas probably how the earth got made, bright-hued miracles spun out of matter.”
Another thing that makes this story so much fun to read is the narrative itself. Caught somewhere between a swashbuckling adventure and a tale of the Wild West boomtowns, Prosperity contains page after page of ship-to-ship battles, showdowns and six-shooters, and even a little magic, which kept me riveted from beginning to end. And if all that wasn’t enough, there’s a healthy dose of romance running throughout, too.
I can say without hesitation that I’ll read anything by Mr. Hall at this point. There is nothing apologetic, nor delicate, in any of his stories I’ve read so far, and Prosperity is, thankfully, no exception. Instead, it is launched at the reader with all the delicacy of a slingshot, and I found the experience to be pretty spectacular. Irreverent, exciting, funny, and heartfelt, there’s not a thing I didn’t like about this particular adventure, and I hope with all my heart that there will be more from Picadilly and the rest of the crew very soon.
Prosperity, 1863: a lawless skytown where varlets, chancers, and ne’er-do-wells risk everything to chase a fortune in the clouds, and where a Gaslight guttersnipe named Piccadilly is about to cheat the wrong man. This mistake will endanger his life . . . and his heart.
Thrill! As our hero battles dreadful kraken above Prosperity. Gasp! As the miracles of clockwork engineering allow a dead man to wreak his vengeance upon the living. Marvel! At the aerial escapades of the aethership, Shadowless.
Beware! The licentious and unchristian example set by the opium-addled navigatress, Miss Grey. Disapprove Strongly! Of the utter moral iniquity of the dastardly crime prince, Milord. Swoon! At the dashing skycaptain, Byron Kae. Swoon Again! At the tormented clergyman, Ruben Crowe.
Release Date: October 27, 2014
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Series: Prosperity #1
ISBN: # 978-1626491779
Genre: Steampunk, Action/Adventure, Historical Fantasy, Romance, LGBTQ
Format(s): paperback (226 pages), e-book
Book Source: Publisher
Prosperity (Prosperity #1)