The Captain’s Log – stone mad (Elizabeth Bear)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I read the first book, karen memery, back before I had this log.  It was fantastic.  This be book two.  They both take place in a “steampunk Victorian Pacific Northwest city” with a western feel.  While I try to post no spoilers, if ye haven’t read the first book then ye might want to skip this post. If ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . .

I think Karen Memery be one the more fun characters to read about and is written with a truly distinct voice.  The first book was full of action, great world building, and excellent, diverse characters.  So I was excited to see where this story picked up.

I can’t really tell ye where it started due to spoilers but I have to admit that  I was surprised by the turn of events for the characters.  What I can tell ye is that the characters be in the midst of a dinner at a fancy hotel restaurant when a haunting begins.  Ye see a grisly series of murders took place there back in the day.  Luckily the hotel is currently hosting a female magician and two female spiritualist sisters.  Only the sisters and the magician don’t get along and have some bad history.  Can Karen get the three women to cooperate to solve the the haunting?  Or is it all one big con?

I loved getting to visit Karen again.  She be awesome.  But this was an odd story.  The action portion of the story involving the haunting only takes up a little over half of the 192 page novella.  The other focus of the novella is on Karen’s romantic situation and involves a lover’s quarrel and the angst about the escalation of the adult responsibilities of the relationship.  Both sides be stubborn.  And while I understood both points, both of the lovers were kinda ridiculous and I just wanted them to resolve it and get back to the action.  Only the action was over.

So while I rather loved the first part of the novella, the second part was just okay.  The problems in the relationship really were the point of the novella.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I am glad I read it and I do want more adventures of Karen in the future.

Side note: This was another novella by  I love them and want them all!!

I usually post the blurb for a book here but this one be too spoilery so I be putting down the blurb for book one instead for those that haven’t read it yet!  Arrr!

“You ain’t gonna like what I have to tell you, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. See, my name is Karen Memery, like memory only spelt with an e, and I’m one of the girls what works in the Hôtel Mon Cherie on Amity Street. Hôtel has a little hat over the o like that. It’s French, so Beatrice tells me.”

Set in the late 19th century—when the city we now call Seattle Underground was the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s high-quality bordello. Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house—a resourceful group—and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap—a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.

Bear brings alive this Jack-the-Ripper yarn of the old west with a light touch in Karen’s own memorable voice, and a mesmerizing evocation of classic steam-powered science.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Elizabeth Bear – Author

To buy the book go to:

stone mad – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

 the stone in the skull (On the Horizon – Fantasy eArc)

13 thoughts on “The Captain’s Log – stone mad (Elizabeth Bear)

    1. Yes ye do need to read the first book. It is so very fun. The romance is odd in that the two characters are already together. They are just trying to determine parameters of their relationship. But I love their relationship in general. Thanks for the comment. Arrr!
      x The Captain


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