Historical Fantasies with Feisty Heroines by David D. Levine and R.S. Belcher

24 Jan

I’m always a fan of Gaslight Fantasies, Steampunk, and other forms of retro futurism.  Recently I enjoyed two very different takes on the female adventurer/pirate that I hope you want to check out too.  All are available from the Hoboken Public Library and other BCCLS libraries.

Arabella of Mars & Arabella and the Battle of Venus by David D. Levine

arabella-marsarabella-battle-venus.jpg
Arabella of Mars had been on my to-be-read list since it came out last summer so when the sequel Arabella and the Battle of Venus came out this past July, I decided it was time to read both.  Fans of steampunk and quirky, feisty heroines will enjoy this novel which begins in 1812 in a world where Napoleon is causing trouble for not only England and Europe, but other alien inhabited planets.  Arabella Ashby was raised on Mars where she is able to have more freedom and adventures than women typically had on earth, but all that changes when her mother decides to bring her back to England in order to make a lady of her.  However when a beloved family member left behind is threatened Arabella will do anything to get back and save the day.  In Arabella and the Battle of Venus, Arabella must come to the rescue of another loved one, this time being held hostage on Venus.  I found Levine’s writing style enjoyable and I loved the creative quirky retro-futurist details like the whales which swim amongst the stars.  The novels though found in the Adult Fiction section here at the Hoboken Library, would definitely be of interest to teens and tweens as well and won the 2017 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult SF & Fantasy.  Check them out and see why I can’t wait for the next in the series (tentatively titled Arabella and the Winds of Phobos or Arabella the Traitor of Mars according to Levine’s blog).

The Queen of Swords by R.S. Belcher

queen-swords.jpg
The Queen of Swords is the third in R.S. Belcher’s Golgotha series.  Although the series is mainly set in the Weird West, this novel takes place mainly in New England and Africa.  I enjoyed the first in the series The Six Gun Tarot which reminded me a bit of Stephen King’s The Gunslinger merged with HP Lovecraft elder gods, but I enjoyed The Queen of Swords even more because it focuses on my favorite character of the series, Maude Stapleton, a seemingly proper Victorian lady, who is secretly, one of the Daughters of Lilith, an ancient organization seeking to protect humanity.  In this novel it intersperses Maude’s efforts to get her kidnapped daughter back with the story of her ancestor, Anne Bonny, a pirate queen.  Unlike with Like in Levine’s stories both Maude and Anne must contend with being underestimated and oppressed by a society that views them as weak despite their wit and physical abilities.  This series has more violence and adult content than in Levine’s works so are more appropriate for an older audience and it is more a blend of horror/ historic fantasy.  Although there are spoilers for previous books, so you may want to read the first two books in the series first, this entry stands well on its own.

Like these books; then check out my previous posts about Gail Carriger’s Steampunk series, Catherynne M. Valente’s Radiance, and Leanna Renee Heieber’s The Eterna Files, and Liesel Schwarz’s The Chronicles of Light and Shadow for more strong female protagonists in speculative fiction.

Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: