Victorian Hot Mess

The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

I’m all for steampunk and Victorian anything, but not when it makes me feel like an idiot using my native language. The Iron Wyrm Affair is like reading Shakespeare for the first time without a lexicon. Everything great about this book was overshadowed by overly indulgent prose coupled with a lack of context.

I was really excited about this book, up until I started reading it. The plot starts off promising in the middle of a conspiracy but is bogged down by an overly descriptive narrative and no foundation to root the reader. Plopped into an established world with no introduction, was a bit disorienting. I kept waiting to be let in on the secret world and magical explanations, but none came. I felt cheated, not being able to participate in the world building experience, excluded from the author’s VIP mind set. I was lost a lot, grasping for some context to ground me in this unfamiliar world.

The characters were interesting but the alternating POVs makes the story choppy and difficult to get into. The writing style hindered their connection for me, at times I found it difficult to separate the dialogue and who was saying what. I usually rather enjoy having dueling perspectives but I don’t think Saintcrow made it worked here. With two diverse personalities such as Clare and Bannon I would expect two contrasting distinct voices, but really only got one voice for the two characters.

The most difficult part for me was not being familiar with any of the slang used. There was a breakdown of magical hierarchy which would’ve been more useful presented in the front of the text than the back but I wish there was an index of terms, footnotes, anything to help the reader out.

If you like being thrown to the wolves for a bare handed fight then you’ll love The Iron Wyrm Affair. While I got the gist of the story, it was slow going. I felt a lot of the details and growth got lost in the language. The reader must constantly wade through Saintcrow’s overly stylize prose just to drown in her own personal joke of a world she won’t let the reader in on. This series could be great with a prequel, glossary of terms, and some serious editing.

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2 stars -NOT for me.

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