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.The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter (The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire, #1) by Rod Duncan
Series: Gas-lit Empire #1
Published: 2014 by Angry Robot
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk, Mystery
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The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan is a steampunk fantasy novel about a young woman who leads a double life. Elizabeth Barnabus grew up as part of the circus, and learned from an early age how to use illusion to manipulate an audience. After her parents’ untimely deaths, Elizabeth cross-dresses and pretends to be her fictitious brother (also a private eye) in order to escape from the rigid confines of Victorian-ish society. One of her cases proves to be inordinately dangerous, and leads to entanglements with the dangerous Patent Office.
It’s been a while since I’ve written a DNF review, but I was inspired to finally do this one by a post from Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings entitled “What if DNF was your default option?” While DNF (did not finish) is not my default option, one of my goals this year was to allow myself to let my reading be guided by my own whims rather than schedules or feelings of obligation. And even though there were a lot of things about The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter that I enjoyed, I’ve spent about six months of reading a chapter here or a chapter there, and I just can’t bring myself to finish the book. It isn’t because I dislike it, but rather that it doesn’t grip me or excite me in the way that so many other books do. I’m giving myself permission to stop dwelling on it and move on.
That said, the setting and characters both appealed to me. I loved the description of Elizabeth’s riverboat home. I enjoyed seeing Elizabeth try to keep up her charade, especially as she became more and more socially entangled with her neighbors. I was intrigued by the lore spread among traveling performers, and the way that those legends and superstitions began to creep into Elizabeth’s life as she tried to untangle her story and understand her parents’ deaths. There was a very real sense of mystery, and the mystery/steampunk/fantasy genre-blend is something I usually enjoy. I’d definitely recommend The Bullet-Catchers Daughter to other readers. It just wasn’t for me, and I’m not entirely sure why.