5 stars, Book Review, dogs, fantasy, feature, monsters, Phoebe Darqueling, Steampunk
About Riftmaker by Phoebe Darqueling
Save his boy, uncover a conspiracy, and master opposable thumbs—a dog’s work is never done.
Buddy’s favorite thing is curling up for a nap at the foot of Ethan’s bed. Then he stumbles through a portal to a clockwork city plagued by chimeras, and everything changes… Well, not everything. Sure, his new human body comes with magic powers, but he’d still rather nap than face the people of Excelsior, who harbor both desire and fear when it comes to “the other side.”
He discovers Ethan followed him through the portal and underwent his own transformation, and it becomes Buddy’s doggone duty to save him. Buddy finds unlikely allies in an aristocrat with everything on the line, a mechanic with something to hide, and a musician willing to do anything to protect her. Using a ramshackle flying machine, the group follows the chimeras deep into the forest and uncovers a plot that could reshape the worlds on both sides of the rift.
Review of Riftmaker
It is such a delight to find a new author that tells such a fantastic story. Fantastic as in really great, and fantastic as in highly imaginative. The concept of transformation while traveling through a dimensional rift gives Riftmaker that hook. And when a dog travels the rift and becomes human….well, have you ever wondered what your dog would be like if it could at least talk to you? Ms. Darqueling has done that and more.
Buddy has a magical talent. He knows a person’s true name. Dogs intuit our nature, don’t they. Our true selves. In as much as our name is associated with our true self, I love this about Buddy. I also love that he is almost always the upbeat puppy. Happy with everyone and everything. Except when his Ethan, or someone he cares about is in trouble. Then he is anxious. As a human, his behavior has a tendency to irritate some people around him. But he reminds me of my own dog so much, I love it!
Ethan and Buddy’s friends get into lots of trouble. There are the Travelers (shifters) that have established their own camp because they are ostracized by the rest of the people on this side of the rift. Their Commander has some, er, forceful ideas about loyalty and how all Travelers should live regardless of their current form – human or animal. Heaven forbid any of them that don’t fall in line. Ethan, as a dog, becomes hunted by the Commander. Trouble.
The Commander and his troops control the chimeras. Monsters that constantly change shape and seem to feed on anything that get in their paths. They wander the city streets every night, looking for the food the citizens put out to placate the chimeras. More trouble.
The wealthy of the city of Excelsior live apart from the poor. Safe from the monsters. Safe from knowledge of lives of the poor. One such person is Lord Corvid. Happy to use his money and power to manipulate life according to his whim. Yes, he is trouble too.
Buddy (who I consider to be the main character) does not even show up until chapter 2. Chapter 1 seemed out of place because it is chapter 2 that sets the tone for the rest of the story. Adventure, struggles, monsters, friends and, did I mention, trouble!
The characters are generally youthful and the lack of sex or explicit violence means this book could also be marketed as young adult. Even the protagonist are adults, common in YA fiction. However, the writing is not youthful. It felt very mature.
There was an overwhelming sense of wrongness about what was going on in the town. Why doesn’t anybody do anything about it? There are scientists and other smart people in town. There are also rich people. Why don’t the rich people pay the smart people to figure out a way to get rid of the chimeras? And how come nobody knows about the Chosen living outside of town. And of course, the bias against Travelers when they had no control over their trip through the rift is a shame. The residents of Excelsior use The Great Tragedy to explain all these other tragedies. What I like is that the heroes and heroines in Riftmaker find other explanations. And try to make things right.
Wait till you find out the origin of the chimeras. I did not see that coming.
Riftmaker is pure adventure full of colorful characters and an engaging story line. If steampunk and fantasy sound good to you, I recommend Riftmaker.
Add Riftmaker to your Goodreads shelf:
For a limited time, Riftmaker is available for $1.99 from Amazon and a variety of other e-book retailers. So grab your copy before Feb 14! Print price is $18.99 from Amazon and the Our Write Side store.
Find more character spotlights, book reviews, guest posts, and interviews with Phoebe Darqueling during the Riftmaker blog tour, Jan 24 – Mar 6.
About the Author
Phoebe Darqueling is the pen name of a globe trotting vagabond who currently hangs her hat in Freiburg, Germany. In her “real life” she writes curriculum for a creativity competition for kids in MN and edits academic texts for non-native English speakers. She loves all things Steampunk and writes about her obsession on SteampunkJournal.org. During 2017, she coordinated a Steampunk novel through the Collaborative Writing Challenge called Army of Brass, and also loves working with authors as an editor. You can also find her short stories in the Chasing Magic and The Queen of Clocks and Other Steampunk Tales anthologies so far, and her next novel, No Rest for the Wicked is coming Spring 2019. She’s an equal opportunity Star Trek, Star Wars, and Firefly fan, but her favorite pastime is riffing on terrible old movies a la Mystery Science Theater 3000.
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Thanks so much for reading and reviewing Riftmaker!
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My pleasure – it was fun!
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Jennifer Zamboni said:
Great review! I’m excited to read this one!
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