Review by evraealtana -- The Engine Woman's Light

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evraealtana
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Review by evraealtana -- The Engine Woman's Light

Post by evraealtana » 23 Jun 2019, 16:34

[Following is a volunteer review of "The Engine Woman's Light" by Laurel Anne Hill.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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The Engine Woman’s Light (Laurel Anne Hill) is a Western-style fantasy novel set in the late 19th century which centers around a young woman with mystical abilities who must save herself and her people from the absolute destruction predicted by her ancestors.

Juanita Elise Jame-Navarro is a teenage orphan raised by adoptive parents in a small, rural, Old West desert town. She is also a mystic, or a person with the ability to enter the walkway between life and death and speak to those who have already crossed to the other side. She is warned in a vision from her deceased ancestors that her people face imminent annihilation unless she can manage to derail a specific train, the Federally-run transport train that moves “undesirable” people such as orphans, lepers, rebels, and prisoners of war to a concentration camp-like “asylum”. She convinces her people to help her derail the train in order to secure their freedom and prevent the fate that the ancestors predicted. The train sabotage is a success, but it alters Juanita’s life forever. Injured, frightened, and alone, she is suddenly thrust into a group of traveling strangers with nothing more than her name and a new mission: to recover the tatters of her former life and to fight for her people’s redemption.

The story features a love triangle, but it is in no way stereotypical or even predictable; it kept me guessing quite literally until the last page. I detest romance novels as a rule, but the romantic thread of this one was done so expertly that I hardly noticed it; it just felt as though it was a necessary but minor part of the larger storyline. Juanita’s character was believable and compelling, and I was always interested to read about what she would do next.

In fact, characterization was one of the work’s greatest assets. All of the characters, even the minor ones, felt as though they had stories of their own to tell, which made them interesting and nuanced. It is rare that a story grips me the way this one did, and I attribute the magic entirely to the quality of the writing.

A few steampunk elements were present but not overdone so as to become cheesy. Overall, it is more a Western than a steampunk novel, albeit one with abundant supernatural facets which are integral to the plot. A few minor errors exist in the text, but none of them interfere with understanding or enjoyment. On the whole, the book seems polished and professional and deserves a place on the bookshelf of any fan of the genre.

A word of caution, however: despite the youth of the protagonist and the illustrated style of the front cover, this is not a book for children. The text does not shy away from the less-savory aspects of life in the Old West and features mass murder, mafia-style violence, and sexual assault. There are also myriad references, some quite explicit, to homosexuality. While I felt that these scenes were handled quite respectfully and not in a way that would offend LGBTQ+/ally readers, it may be distasteful to readers who are uncomfortable with the subject.

I would rate The Engine Woman’s Light as a 4 out of 4 for its gripping storyline, excellent character development, and vivid, imaginative depiction of a fantasy world that is somehow both foreign and familiar. It would most appeal to adult readers who are fans of fiction that borders on fantasy and who are not averse to the Old West genre.

******
The Engine Woman's Light
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Post by Renee_Prior1995 » 24 Jun 2019, 15:26

western fantasy, sounds cool. Great review!
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evraealtana
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Post by evraealtana » 03 Jul 2019, 09:00

Renee_Prior1995 wrote:
24 Jun 2019, 15:26
western fantasy, sounds cool. Great review!
Thank you!
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Post by Prakasardi » 03 Jul 2019, 09:12

makes the reader curious about the contents of the story

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evraealtana
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Post by evraealtana » 08 Jul 2019, 13:46

Prakasardi wrote:
03 Jul 2019, 09:12
makes the reader curious about the contents of the story
Thank you! I hope you check it out.
Also - Welcome to OBC!
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Post by inaramid » 21 Jul 2019, 08:49

A word of caution, however: despite the youth of the protagonist and the illustrated style of the front cover, this is not a book for children.
Isn't it? :lol: Talk about a book subverting your expectations. I think it was that scene after they derailed that very first train that shocked me into realizing that the book wasn't what I thought it would be.

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Post by Miriam Molina » 05 Aug 2019, 15:50

That's an incredible review you wrote there! It seems this train is one I shouldn't miss. There's a Mulan (I loved that film) vibe too.

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Post by Tomah » 05 Aug 2019, 19:19

What an interesting mix of fantasy, steampunk, and Western! I'm not the hugest fan of the latter two, but the premise alone sounds too intriguing to ignore. Even more when it features good characters, an interesting storyline, and an actually well-executed love triangle (a rare breed). Thanks for the review!

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Post by evraealtana » 06 Aug 2019, 13:27

inaramid wrote:
21 Jul 2019, 08:49
A word of caution, however: despite the youth of the protagonist and the illustrated style of the front cover, this is not a book for children.
Isn't it? :lol: Talk about a book subverting your expectations. I think it was that scene after they derailed that very first train that shocked me into realizing that the book wasn't what I thought it would be.
Same here. :shock: I had expected something much "fluffier", along the lines of the way that no one dies in Disney movies. The train scene burst that bubble right away, and the rest of the book didn't get any sweeter. Still... an incredible read.
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Post by evraealtana » 06 Aug 2019, 13:30

Miriam Molina wrote:
05 Aug 2019, 15:50
That's an incredible review you wrote there! It seems this train is one I shouldn't miss. There's a Mulan (I loved that film) vibe too.
Thank you very much! I actually hadn't thought of it that way before, but now that you mention it, I can definitely see the Mulan parallels.
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Post by evraealtana » 06 Aug 2019, 13:30

Tomah wrote:
05 Aug 2019, 19:19
What an interesting mix of fantasy, steampunk, and Western! I'm not the hugest fan of the latter two, but the premise alone sounds too intriguing to ignore. Even more when it features good characters, an interesting storyline, and an actually well-executed love triangle (a rare breed). Thanks for the review!
Thank you! It's an odd bird, this novel - but somehow it all comes together beautifully. I hope you check it out!
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Post by InStoree » 10 Aug 2019, 00:36

I like Juanita's ability to open the door to the other side and get some insight news. The plot sounds quite suspenseful. I'm not into romance so much either, so I'm glad that this nuance is just a connected bridge for the storyline. Amazing review! Thank you!
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Post by evraealtana » 16 Aug 2019, 07:28

InStoree wrote:
10 Aug 2019, 00:36
I like Juanita's ability to open the door to the other side and get some insight news. The plot sounds quite suspenseful. I'm not into romance so much either, so I'm glad that this nuance is just a connected bridge for the storyline. Amazing review! Thank you!
Thank you very much! When the romantic elements started, I was wary - I didn't want them to take over the plot. I was pleased to find that they didn't.
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Post by allbooked+ » 16 Aug 2019, 15:57

Sound like a unique story-line - western fantasy! Enjoyed reading your review.

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