A Matter of Circumstance and Celludrones

I picked this one up because I have been pleasantly surprised by independent authors writing off-kilter steampunk before, but unfortunately this particular Victorian-era steampunk cocktail was not as much to my taste.

I am not sure why everyone seems to love Victorian-era England for their steampunk setting, but if you’ve read any other books in that setting then Celludrones will instantly be familiar to you, and indeed the Robyns appears to assume this will be the case; the steampunk aspects of this novel are omnipresent, but not described in any particular depth. We have the requisite airships and automated help, but it’s essentially window dressing to the invading demons.

The main reason that I was put off by Circumstance and Celludrones can be summed up in two words: “paranormal romance”. I’m perfectly comfortable having a bit of romance in my novels, but I have difficulty stomaching the melodramatically bipolar relationships that appear to characterize the romance genre. I had a lot of difficulty accepting the reasons the characters were giving for feeling star-crossed as legitimate, which put me off for most of the final portion of the story.

However, the writing was good, and for the most part I liked the characters, even if most of them never grew up or changed much after the first few pages. If you like romances, paranormal or otherwise, you will probably enjoy Circumstance and Celludrones a lot more than I did. For my part, though, I will stick to the world of Shelley Adina’s Magnificent Devices for my Victorian-era steampunk fix.

Plot summary

The plot summary contains spoilers! Show it anyway.

Greyston Adair, a rakishly handsome Scottish ne’er do well, shows up in Britain and seeks out Lily d’Bulier. In their first meeting, a lady they refer to as Lady Ostrich (due to her prominent ostrich-feather headwear) shows up and kills Lily. Luckily, Greyston apparently has the ability to go back in time, which he does. Both Lily and Greyston remember the events of their aborted bit of time together, however, and they begin running as hard as they can from the nigh-invincible, lightning-wielding Lady Ostrich.

They are joined by Lily’s best friend Evelyn and a small cast of other characters, and eventually discover that the McAllister clan in Scotland is responsible for their predicament. Evidently the McAllisters have been fighting demons for quite some time (of which Lady Ostrich is one). Demons apparently are able to cross over onto Earth through a rift in England, but because they are banished by salt water (uh, what?) cannot escape the island, and thus have not laid waste to the rest of the world (although England has suffered quite a few demon-related disasters).

Drama ensues, and eventually the dynamic duo faces down Lady Ostrich, are almost killed, and are saved at the last minute by Kelan McAllister who reveals that their abilities (and Lady Ostrich’s desire to eradicate them) stem from an experiment performed by the former owner of the McAllister estate where he infused demon blood with human fetuses to create demon-powered humans. Greyston is completely shaken by this (and by the realization that his father was the one to bomb the McAllister estate and kill off everyone except him and Lily) and he decides that he is worthless and runs off.

Lily stays behind, determined to learn from McAllister and slay some demons, despite the fact that her single ability (identifying demons through semi-prophetic visions) has only worked once during the course of the novel. Ah well. Surely she shall learn to be a little more awesome in the future.