I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Prosperity (Prosperity #1) by Alexis Hall
Published: Riptide Publishing (2014), eARC, 235pg
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, GLBTQ, Romance, Sci-fi
A breathtaking tale of passion and adventure in the untamed skies!
Prosperity, 1863: a lawless skytown where varlets, chancers, and ne’er-do-wells risk everything to chase a fortune in the clouds, and where a Gaslight guttersnipe named Piccadilly is about to cheat the wrong man. This mistake will endanger his life . . . and his heart.
Thrill! As our hero battles dreadful kraken above Prosperity. Gasp! As the miracles of clockwork engineering allow a dead man to wreak his vengeance upon the living. Marvel! At the aerial escapades of the aethership, Shadowless.
Beware! The licentious and unchristian example set by the opium-addled navigatress, Miss Grey. Disapprove Strongly! Of the utter moral iniquity of the dastardly crime prince, Milord. Swoon! At the dashing skycaptain, Byron Kae. Swoon Again! At the tormented clergyman, Ruben Crowe.
This volume (available in print, and for the first time on mechanical book-reading devices) contains the complete original text of Piccadilly’s memoirs as first serialised in All the Year Round. Some passages may prove unsettling to unmarried gentlemen of a sensitive disposition.
Memory wrote an excellent review of Prosperity back in October, and it was SO excellent that I went on NetGalley and found Prosperity and requested it for review myself! And I’m so glad I did, because I LOVED it.
There is steampunk (or maybe gaslamp)! There is alternate history (kinda)!1 There are air ships and monsters living behind the sky and lesbians and a bisexual protagonist and crime lords and a nonbinary ship captain and a floating city and, really, the only thing missing was a band of sky pirates. (Maybe they’ll be in another book.)
So it’s full of stuff I enjoy reading about PLUS fabulous writing, plus great characters and an interesting plot– although the story’s emphasis is definitely on Dil and his friendships than anything else. The best part of Prosperity is reading Dil’s descriptions about his home and his companions, especially since his voice is so unique. It’s kind of a mix of pseudo-19th century slang and more modern phrasing; it took me a while to get used to, but once I did it was so vibrant and fun that I ended up loving it.
Speaking of Dil: his romantic storyline is not the standard sort of meet-cute thing. He meets someone (Ruben) and falls in love, sure, but their romance manages to miss most of the familiar romantic beats. It’s more like a tangled ball of yarn than a rainbow road to happiness, tbh.
And though he’s hot for Ruben, he actually has a deep emotional connection with someone else on the ship and can’t see it because he’s so distracted by Ruben’s stupid-handsome face. It’s totally adorable and frustrating, a slow-burn kind of romance that doesn’t even get a truly satisfying conclusion. There is the possibility of that, though, which is good enough for me (I guess).
I really like when a book does something unexpected, so I didn’t mind that, but I can see how someone expecting a typical fantasy/scifi romance might be upset at the loss. The secondary romance2 still hits those beats, though, so I suppose that might be comforting.
Read: December 9-10, 2014
Be sure to check out Prosperity‘s page on the publisher’s website, where you can find links to interviews with the author and other fun stuff.
If you’ve read and liked Prosperity, you can pick up There Will Be Phlogiston, a 300 page story set in the same world, for free! It’s actually a standalone, too, so if you HAVEN’T read Prosperity yet, you could still get the story.