Raise your hand if you like steampunk.
Raise your hand if you like steampunk without understanding what it is.
I don’t read a ton of steampunk. I don’t understand exactly what it is. At least not beyond shiny gears that are spun about by steam. And you know what? That’s okay.
Because every time I read steampunk it’s new and exciting and I learn something interesting. That’s why I was excited to read Boston Metaphysical Society: Prelude. It’s a collection of 7 short stories that all tie into Madeleine Holly-Rosing’s Boston Metaphysical comic book that I read, reviewed, and love.
This is usually where I write out a synopsis. That being said, these are 7 short stories with 7 different plots, so I’m not going to be able to do that. What I can do, however, is launch right into my analysis. Here we go:
These short stories deal with characters that show up in the Boston Metaphysical Society comics: Jonathan Weldsmore, Caitlin and Andrew O’Sullivan, Samuel Hunter, Granville, and Elizabeth before she married Samuel. It gave us a lot of very good information: How did Samuel, a Middle District man, come to marry a woman who is part of the Great Houses? What was it like for Caitlin to grow up as both a Medium and an Irish girl, two things greatly despised by most? How did Granville end up working with Samuel Hunter?
All of these questions (and more) are answered in these short stories. They lent even greater depth to already well-developed characters. I particularly enjoyed getting a glimpse of Andrew’s (Caitlin’s father) life and personality, as he’s somebody we get little information on in the comics for reasons that are apparent if you’ve read issue #1. All of the characters had struggles specific to their social class, and the way they each dealt with these problems was very interesting (and maybe a bit heartrending) to read about.
I think possibly the best thing about this Prelude is the insight it gave into the world that Holly-Rosing has created. We learn more about the Great Houses, the workings of various steampunk machines and weapons, and the reasons for the stigma surrounding the Irish, Mediums, and Liberty Row.
The prejudices of the characters as well as their virtues lent a reality to the world that made it both enjoyable and easy to immerse myself in. Boston Metaphysical Society (both the short stories and the comic book) features a highly developed world that is impressive to read.
The only problem I had with this collection of short stories? The writing style. It was by no means bad, but at some points it gave us too much information in a slightly stilted way. There was too much telling of emotions and information, rather than showing.
However, this was not a continuous problem and only cropped up every so often, so it didn’t bother me very much. After all, the brilliant character development and world building were so well executed that it would take a much larger problem to derail these stories.
Prelude made me even more excited about the world and characters than I already was upon reading the comics. I recommend reading the comics first, then these short stories as a supplement. Both are excellent reads.
If you haven’t already, you need to check out the Boston Metaphysical Society. I mean, right now. Make this your first read of 2017. Then come back and tell me how you liked it and who your favorite character is. *cough* It should be Caitlin. *cough* *cough*
Have you read this series? What are some other steampunk stories you enjoy? Leave a comment below!