Photographs & Phantoms

This novella is labeled ‘1.5’ in the Gaslight Chronicles – coming between the first full length novel, and the second. I haven’t read either of these but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this book.

Author: Cindy Spencer Pape
Released by: Carina Press

As a member of the Order of the Round Table, Kendall Lake is overqualified to be investigating strange phenomena at a seaside photography studio. But since the photographer is related to the Order’s most powerful sorcerer, Kendall reluctantly boards a dirigible to Brighton. 

Amy Deland is haunted by a shadow that appears in some of her recent portraits. In each case, the subject died within days of the sitting. Does she have her grandmother’s gift of foresight, or has she somehow caused the deaths? 

As Kendall and Amy search for answers, their investigation draws them together in a most improper way—but it seems the evil presence in the studio is determined to keep them apart…

I picked this up from the Amazon Free Bestselling list, and I think it’s the first time I have read a .5 book, though I am seeing more of them around. In principle I think they are a great idea – introducing new readers to the world of a series before they invest in a longer work, and also filling readers desire for more while they wait for the next in the series to be released.

I’m quite fond of steampunk, so it was a no brainer that I was going to pick this one up. The cover was quite interesting, and so was the premise. I don’t believe I’ve read any books released by Carina Press before, so it was also a good introduction to the novels they publish.

The world is quite different from most of the other steampunk books: the steam aspect was in the background, there was less action and guns and other stuff. Instead there were a lot of allusions to paranormal stuff going on which I really enjoyed. It was an interesting world, once which I’d be interested to see more of. The story focuses primarily on the two lead characters and the phantoms in the photographs, and leaving everything else very much in the background.

I enjoyed both of the lead characters. Amy is a strong independent woman who has set about creating a living for herself, without the need of a man to care for her. This, in fact, is part of the reason she encounters this mysterious phantom in her photographs, and with the help of Kendall, they solve the mystery fairly quickly.

It’s a very quick read, but an enjoyable one. It’s not the kind of thing that will stick with you long after, but it is fairly well written and hints at a much larger would, and let’s the reader know what to expect from the author. I will most probably check out the other titles in this series at some point, as I’d love to see what she does with the setting and elements in play.

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