Release Date: December 9, 2013
Publisher: A-Girl Studio
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Steampunk | LGBT
Elle Black, an unconventional psychic detective in an unconventional Victorian marriage, leaves her housewifely duties to answer a desperate plea. Guests are vanishing in a mechanical hotel known as the Sundark, and Elle must use her 'anomalous perturbationist' gift--the ability to moves objects with her mind--to save herself and the remaining hotel residents from malevolent, sidereal powers. But with apparitions appearing, magnetic lines disrupted, and clairvoyant guests lurking, who is the true murderer---or murderess?
Gaslamp, steampunk, Gothic Victorian horror and mystery; bringing you an uncanny heroine in a mechanical, paranormal, alternate world London. Join Elle Black, female sleuth, in her supernatural adventuress tales!
Elizabeth Watasin, I like your style and I guarantee SUNDARK is the first of many books I will read by you. Short novels are usually hit or miss for me because I find that the length works against the plot development of the story. The good news is SUNDARK was a hit and it's unlike any Steampunk fantasy I've read in a while. And for a very slim tome, I'm having a hard time summing it up for you, I'll take it in parts then.
SUNDARK is an LGBT novella as Elle married her lifelong friend, Faedra, after her husband and brother died causing Elle to have a nervous breakdown leading to a short stint in the crazy house. Now to make their union plausible, Elle explained that their marriage contract is like a business partnership and though EWatasin didn't show the intimate parts of their relationship, it's clear that they care deeply for each other and they're friends first before they're lovers. Tasteful presentation of Sapphic love.
As for the plot, Sundark is actually a haunted mechanical hotel and Elle was hired to figure out the haunting and the mystery behind the disappearing guests. I struggled with the conflict a little bit, by mid point I was scratching my head because I'm waiting for the "punchline" but turns out it wasn't as complex as I expected it to be. I liked the case that is the mechanical, alchemical house, the story behind it is dark, sinister, and quite a fantastic story involving Hekate and what that goddess represents. And if that's not enough, Sundark the house/hotel is like a cross between the infamous Wincheter Mansion (San Jose, CA) and Rose Red (Stephen King) with its appearing/disappearing doors, stairs, rooms, guests, etc. Creepy, huh?
Ghosts, alchemy, psychic powers, Hekate, just some of things SUNDARK has in store for you. Now I wish the characters, especially Elle and Faedra, were fleshed out more. There's not much character development here as the novella is more plot driven, still it would've been great if Elle and Faedra were fleshed out better to give us a better sense of who they are and some insight to their relationship. I also loved how SUNDARK ended, it seems Elle's past isn't done with her yet and I look forward to reading the next penny dread. There will be vampyres!