The second book in The Society of Steam steampunk series by Andrew P. Mayer picks up right where The Falling Machine ends. After Sir Denis Darby's murder, his Automaton is destroyed and Sarah Stanton has left her high society life to make her own way in the working class of New York City. But Lord Eschaton, the villain behind Darby's death, still has plans to bring about his own murderous version of the future, but he is missing one important part, the Automaton's heart.
Sarah has her own plans for the Automaton's heart-- to rebuild her friend. On her way to meet someone who might help her, Sarah is attacked by The Children of Eschaton. The Italian immigrant that comes to her aid turns out to be her best hope. Emelio Armando is a brilliant inventor who is trying to start over in a new country. He quickly falls in love with Sarah, but doesn't expect all the danger that come with her.
Like The Falling Machine, Hearts of Smoke and Steam, is full of adventure and a quick read. Also like the first book, there is a distinct comic book quality to the writing. I feel in this book we get to the meat of the story, seeing just who Lord Eschaton is and what he has in mind for the rest of humanity. We also learn of Lord Eschaton's history with the Paragons. There is considerably more character depth in Hearts of Smoke and Steam, especially between Sarah and Emelio. While this book also ends on a cliffhanger, it feels more complete than The Falling Machine.
While I only had a lukewarm reaction to The Falling Machine, Hearts of Smoke and Steam exceeded my expectations. Like the first title, there is plenty of superhero action, but there is more depth this time, both in the characters and the storyline.
Hearts of Smoke and Steam by Andrew P. Mayer
Published by Pyr
Hearts of Smoke and Steam by Andrew P. Mayer is available at Amazon.com
My free review copy of Hearts of Smoke and Steam was provided by the publisher.