Published by Hunter/Draven Beneath a Waning Moon on September 29th 2015
Genres: Fantasy Romance, Historical Romance, Steampunk
Two delightfully dark tales of Gothic romance from Elizabeth Hunter and Grace Draven.
In A VERY PROPER MONSTER, Josephine Shaw spends long nights filling the pages of her Gothic stories with the fantastic and the macabre, unaware that the suitor her father has arranged is one of the dark creatures she’s always dreamed. For Tom Dargin, courting an ailing spinster was only one duty in a long life of service to his sire. But after he meets the curious Miss Shaw, will Tom become the seducer or the seduced? Can a love fated to end in tragedy survive a looming grave?
In GASLIGHT HADES, Nathaniel Gordon walks two worlds—that of the living and the dead. Barely human, he's earned the reputation of a Bonekeeper, the scourge of grave robbers. He believes his old life over, until one dreary burial he meets the woman he once loved and almost married. Lenore Kenward stands at her father’s grave, begging the protection of the mysterious guardian, not knowing he is her lost love. Resolved to keep his distance, Nathaniel is forced to abandon his plan and accompany Lenore on a journey into the mouth of Hell where sea meets sky, and the abominations that exist beyond its barrier wait to destroy them.
We’re reviewing the second story in this duology.
Lou: I was pretty stoked when we were sent Gaslight Hades for review by the lovely and mega-talented Grace Draven. The novella is a historical steampunk with a heavy dose of gothic romance. The imagery and tone she created was dark and very romantic with such a fabulous premise of these spectre-like Guardians, who were created by a magic infused Frankenstein doctor named Harvel.
Nathaniel used to be a dirigible crewmember when he met his timely death against terrible and titan-sized monsters. He suffered nightmare and horrific procedures which turned him into a Guardian of the dead, where he protects them from graverobbers. My only critique about the worldbuilding is that I was confused at the beginning and it didn’t seem to have the depth that her other worlds have. How did Harvel capture Nathaniel’s soul and transform into a Guardian? Maybe it was due to the novella length that these bits of information meant it would be too much of an info dump.
Has: The world that Grace Draven created was atmospheric and eerie, especially with the idea of the Guardians of the dead who were sort of halfway dead. I love how she combined those elements with steampunk, which was full of imagination and fantastical creatures. I also agree that I would have loved to have seen more of the world, especially the rift and the wall, the creatures that try to break into the world, and the guild mages. It was a tantalizing hint of a vivid and fantastic world but I was left with the impression that there was more to come from this universe.
I also felt the romance between Nathaniel and Lenore was a great highlight in the novella. It had this yearning feeling and I loved how they slowly rediscovered each other. It was really sweet and romantic and it made me fall in love with Nathaniel’s character a little, despite the scary appearance and armour.
Lou: This! I felt the novella was a glimpse into an already established world and just some of the details were missing. I really adored the romance between Lenore and Nathaniel, which at times were bittersweet. Lenore had lost the love of her life and then she lost her much loved father. It was bittersweet in the sense of the longing Nathaniel and Lenore suffered throughout the years because when Nathaniel was still alive they didn’t part on the best of terms. Lenore’s relationship with her mother was also not easy and was fraught at nearly every turn, especially Lenore’s desire to work on an airship. The debts her father incurred meant that Lenore had no choice but to find a position that paid well, much to the consternation of her mother.
Despite Nathaniel’s ghost-like appearance, Lenore was never frightened of him. Some of the descriptions were lovely, and I would definitely say this is a gothic romance but with a super happy ending :D. The tone of the book was nightly and dark throughout and the romance was the light that shone through. I agree that it seems like there is more to come from this universe which I’m super excited about. And the armour was funfuckingtastic! Seriously. There were some fabulous worldbuilding details that had me going, ohhhhh.
Even though I would have liked a little more depth and some more details pertaining the creation of the Guardians, this was a lovely novella featuring a second-chance romance with a much waited for HEA between the hero and heroine.
I give Gaslight Hades a B.
Has:I so agree with you! I think this is the beginning of a new series because I was very curious with the other Guardians, especially Gideon who has a few secrets of his own. I also would love to know more about the worldbuilding and the backstories of several characters who appeared in the book because this was such a rich and imaginative world with a dark and romantic tone. Draven has this wonderful gift of transporting you into vibrant and memorable worlds and she did it again with Gaslight Hades.
I also give Gaslight Hades a B!