I’ve always had an undeniable penchant for the Christmas season. Even now, the holiday is still my favorite but I have to admit that my excitement varies from year to year. To help counter any Scrooge-like feelings (or even just some ennui over the whole thing), I like to immerse myself in watching Christmas movies, shows, and reading holiday-themed books.
Earlier this year, I stumbled across Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas, a short Steampunk novella, by Heather Hiestand. It had great reviews and combined two of my favorite things–Christmas and Steampunk. Since the holidays were already over, I added it to my Amazon wish list eager to dive into the story once December rolled around.
So one day after setting up the Christmas tree, I downloaded the book, curled up in my favorite chair with a steaming cup of peppermint hot cocoa and got started.
The novella centers on Linet Fenna who grew up happy and carefree as the daughter of a famous air pirate and the entire family resided on the airship, the Christmas. That is until three years’ prior when her family is betrayed by one of their closest friends. Now her father is dead, her sister is missing, and the family airship has been destroyed. Or so she thought until one Christmas Eve reveals a surprising turn of events when the Christmas’ ladder dangles itself enticingly outside her bedroom window, inviting her to retake her destiny as an air pirate. Surprised and hopeful that her sister has somehow managed to secure command of the family vessel, she is disheartened to find the son of her father’s betrayer acting as Captain along with a motley crew. Yet the Captain may not be the foe that Linet believes him to be, and she must trust him in order to find her sister.
The story is a fast-paced adventure with hints of romance and danger that drew me in immediately. I was captivated by the world that Heather Hiestand created, and really hoped to learn more about the authoritarian state of the Empire and the Prime Minister’s automen who maintain his iron-control of the populace. As this book is part of Steampunk Smugglers series, I hope to get a better view of this intriguing world in another work.
Yet, despite the strong plot appeal, the execution failed in a number of aspects. Namely, the tone changed remarkably throughout the book, starting out like a lighthearted fantasy tale and then turning toward some pretty dark themes once her sister’s storyline is introduced. While this isn’t necessarily a problem in a longer work, the shorter length of this novella really worked against the author here. There just wasn’t enough time to really develop any of the storylines (or characters) so in the end the major plot points felt rather rushed and the resolutions felt hollow and too easy. To compound matters, some of the dialogue felt awkward and pulled me out of the story on a number of occasions.
Overall, this wasn’t the most engaging Steampunk novella I’ve ever read, but it was entertaining and I’d suggest giving it a read around the holidays. I’m going to give another one of Heather Hiestand’s books a try…. possibly the Steampunk Smuggler’s Valentine-themed novella, Captain Fenna’s Dirigible Valentine.
This ebook is available at Amazon, B&N, and iBookstore: