Karen Memory

Karen Memory

Book - 2015
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"Steampunk novel set in Seattle in the late 19th century--an era when the town was called Rapid City, when the parts we now call Seattle Underground were the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes bringing would-be miners heading up to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront. Karen is a "soiled dove," a young woman on her own who 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 into her world one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, seeking sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, 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" -- from publisher's web site.
Publisher: New York : Tor, 2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780765375247
Branch Call Number: Fic Bear
Characteristics: 350 pages ; 22 cm


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JBFARRELL Jul 06, 2018

A great book. On the face of it a Western Frontier/Steampunk with magical creatures during the gold rush might sound like an awkward background compared to the more usual Victorian England/Steampunk however this novel is entirely character driven and the characters are great.

Most of the characters are prostitutes with the protagonist and the book's namesake working in a (reasonably) high class brothel for a female Madame. There is a serial killer preying on prostitutes in the town, a villainous pimp with political aspirations, Russian pirates preying on gold transports a la Jules Verne, and a relentless black deputy federal marshal with a native American assistant trying to avoid a lynching while pursuing a murderer. The characters all have well developed personalities and understandable motives.

The book is also great because of the way it takes the background and shows the details of life that follows. This is an experienced writer producing a well thought out book.

JCLHebahA May 07, 2018

Protagonist Karen Memery comes to instant life from the very first line of this first-person steampunk narrative of derring-do starring characters who don't often get leading roles in historical fiction--young women working in the sex trade, immigrants, and even a black US Marshal, many of whom were inspired by real-life counterparts.

Feb 03, 2017

I gave up after a mere three chapters. Like another reviewer, I did not like the style of speech/narration used. It felt much more "frontier" than "fanatasy."

CMLibrary_ecrites May 14, 2016

I really wanted to like this book! It seems like it would be everything I want in a book, steampunky-19thcentury-American West with a strong female protagonist. That has my name written all over it but it just didn't work for me! I was very put off by the narrators manner of speech and I think that was the main issue. She uses a very distinctive accent but it just doesn't feel authentic to me, I never quite got the flow of it and would find myself rereading portions because the prose was so jarring and the word choice/order so unexpected. There are also several points where the action grinds to a halt so the narrator/main character can have a flashback or moment of introspection and all it did was kill the momentum of the plot. In theory this is a great book, in execution it just doesn't work.

sarahfelkar Apr 18, 2016

Set in an steam-punk west coast city during the late 19th century, Bear’s new novel features Karen Memery, a “soiled dove” who works at a high-end bordello, falls in love and into an adventure. This book is delightful and fast-paced, with a vivid and diverse characters and a fascinating setting.


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