Even being busy with writing, networking, and a full time job, I've jammed in time to read. It allows me time to relax and gives me food for thought as to my own stories with possible plots, characters, twists, and settings. I personally love reading both favorites I've found in the past and totally new stories. Variety is the spice of life, but so is seeking new experiences and information! One idea I've played with for my recent stories is learning more about the Steampunk sub-genre. I had the luck of seeing The Exile's Violin listed as one of the available reviews for The Bearded Scribe and jumped on it. The possibility of discovering a new favorite author AND getting to read a novel set in Steampunk fashion? Yes, please!
Caught in a supposedly bungled home robbery as a young teenager, Jacquie Renaire has always been haunted by the memory of her parents' deaths and her lack of action to save them. Taking the reins of a private investigating business from her "uncle" after his death six short years later, Jacquie finds herself in the position to find exactly why her parents died, who killed them, and why the little black key her father cherished so much is important enough to lie, murder, betray, and kickstart a war.
Gems for Writers:
Atmosphere. The constant threat of war throughout the book keeps a reader on her toes. Combined with the tense situations the characters find themselves in, the atmosphere brings the reader closer to the characters and what they're experiencing.
World-building. R.S. Hunter has clearly done well in building the world in The Exile's Violin. Each country described is unique, with different governments, people, fashions, culture, and history. A good example of the differences shown is the different major libraries Jacquie visits in her search for information about the key. While one country values their traditions, utilizing a "traditional" library full of books, tomes, and old scrolls, with library assistants scurrying to help visitors, another country values modernity and ushers their library visitors into small rooms to view tapes pulled up by a mechanical wonder using punchcards of search data.
The Exile's Violin is a fun novel written in more of a youth style. Though the book is fun to read, I wasn't able to take anything in it very seriously. I personally feel the book would do better to be split into two, focusing only on the key, and developing the last 70 pages into another book. I found myself wondering why, towards the end, two private investigators would be allowed—or even invited—to take part in the final situations despite the fact that everything seems totally out of their control (other than having pertinent information).
Since I couldn't take it seriously, I had to give this book less than 4 tokens (5 being a book I'd read in one night and be sleepy as all get-out the next day at work). However, the story is intriguing with interesting characters. The world is amazing, each location having its own problems, solutions, and priorities, all syncing well with the Steampunk sub-genre. I'd recommend the book for teens to young adults, though a more adult reader might find the style simplistic at best.
Read well, write for fun, and keep scribing!
***The Exile's Violin (2012) by R.S. Hunter, is published and copyright by Hydra Publications. It is available in stores, online (see above), and at your local public library.