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Blog Book review: @jrlallo's Free-Wrench

First there was Deacon, then there was Big SigMa* (yes Ma, I wrote it that way on purpose ;-p so sue me) then The Other Eight has a bunch of not-quite-Superheroes, and now you have a ‘dirigible’?

Joseph R. Lallo has decided to try his hand at Steampunk. No, I’m not kidding.

After the indie success of the aforementioned 8 books/series, that delve into fantasy, Sci-Fi and comedy, with wide ranging topics, and such diverse characters as dragons, overly opinionated AI’s and a bunch of misfits from Darwin’s grab bag, you could think this to be the leap that he might not be able to make.

Then you would be wrong.

While the title seems misleading; as you are not actually getting a wrench, since it’s a book not hardware. And nor is it free (as far as I know at the time of this review lol)*

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this one as I’m not normally a fan of steampunk, however, I really enjoyed this. It starts you off with a pretty view of his ‘World’. The story opens with a stunning description of the island chain of Caldera, seeming to be (geographically anyway) much like the lesser Hawaiian islands (there are over 500 of them, some still rising) or the Galapagos (you will see where I’m going with this when you read it) but crossed with San Francisco or Manhattan in the early 1800‘s. But in a good way! (really!)

As always, Lallo writes clear and concise, with easy to understand language. The pseudo (and real) science/mechanics he adds to the mix, without 'dumbing’ it or talking down to readers, makes it fun, and a very nice addition to the genre of Steampunk.

The whole picture gives you the idea that some of this stuff could actually work! While really it probably can’t. Probably.

You may be shocked by a word that seems to be swearing but actually isn’t, but you only learn that later on.

A diverse and likeable cast; including a smart and spunky Heroine of color; who might have got herself in over her head. A reasonable Captain, the rather incomprehensible cook, an over educated armory officer and a pair of siblings who work to keep the ship afloat (and Nita on her toes!) not to mention the ships Inspector, and everyone else she meets along the way on her adventures!

I think my biggest (ie: only) complaint, is that Free-Wrench is much too short (62k words does not seem like enough) and I hope he will expand on this group of people (and lemurs) at a later date.

Free-Wrench is slated for a limited release in May, then full release later this year.

L. Anthony G.
@Grey_Books (author and reviewer)

* yes I’m trying to be funny
eARC provided by author for an honest and (mostly) non spoilery review.