Review: Corsets and Clockwork by Trisha Telep

anthology // $9.95 from {amazon}
Publisher: Running Press Kids (April 26, 2011)
Paperback: 448 pages
Source: Publisher
Dark, urban fantasies come to life in the newest collection of Steampunk stories, Corsets & Clockwork. Young heroes and heroines battle evils with the help of supernatural or super-technological powers, each individual story perfectly balancing historical and fantastical elements. Throw in epic romances that transcend time, and this trendy, engrossing anthology is sure to become another hit for the fast-growing Steampunk genre!

This collection features some of the hottest writers in the teen genre, including: Ann Aguirre, Jaclyn Dolamore, Tessa Gratton, Frewin Jones, Caitlin Kittredge, Adrienne Kress, Lesley Livingston, Dru Pagliassotti, Dia Reeves, Michael Scott, Maria V. Snyder, Tiffany Trent, and Kiersten White.

Rating: View my rating system.

My Thoughts: in the order I read the stories... no individual ratings, but ♥ means I would read this story again.
Under Amber Skies by Maria V. Snyder – I absolutely love Maria V. Snyder’s Study series, and this short story has intriguing action, plot, and courageous boy in true MVS style. It’s a new spin on Poland during World War II and one of the more directly steampunk stories in this collection, with an army of mechanical crabs (an Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa moment) and enhanced Nazi’s. I definitely didn’t foresee the twist at the end, though it made the story memorable. ♥

King of the Greenlight City by Tessa Gratton – One of my favorites in the collection for the fairytale feel. It’s in third person, in keeping with true fairytale format, and has a uniquely steampunk-magical spin. The plot-line is cliché but Tessa Gratton’s writing is beautiful and spot-on with the details. Another very bittersweet ending. ♥

Wild Magic by Ann Aguirre – While not my favorite story, it has my favorite male character: Pick. Partially because of his Fey beauty, partially because he has the whole “cold warrior exterior and inner romantic softie” thing going for him. Wild Magic has an intriguing world that I wish I wish I could’ve learned more about, rather than just an introduction in the beginning and glimpses from time-to-time, but the story was still enjoyable, if, again, a bit cliché. ♥

The Clockwork Corset by Adrienne Kress – A very cute read about a brave, determined girl who’s willing to do anything to protect her childhood friend and true love, including going to the war’s frontlines. The cute trend continued through the ending, and it was tied up nicely with a sweet, paragraph-long epilogue reminiscent of a fairytale happily ever after. ♥

The Airship Gemini by Jaclyn Dolamore – Original, for sure. This story follows Faith, one member of a pair of conjoined twins, who performs as a freak. I didn’t really connect with the characters, but that may be due to the concentration on the plot and setting, both of which took a while to set up. Did I mention this is the only story with vampires and magic?

Chickie Hill’s Badass Ride by Dia Reeves – Different, but that’s what I expect from Dia Reeves: always unique, a bit scary, a bit strange, and a whole lot of awesome. This story is set solidly in America in 1961, complete with ‘60’s dialogue, retro cars, little boy-draining aliens, a kick-alien-ass teen female activist, and her genius boyfriend, Chickie. And when I say genius, I literally mean “ability to control the world” genius. So Dia Reeves, and so seriously righteous. ♥

Code of Blood by Dru Pagliassoti – Award for cool action and most fleshed out plot. Code of Blood was like an extremely, extremely compact yet epic adventure as they rushed to keep the French out of Venezia. The characters were courageous and lovable, especially because I have a sweet spot for shameless flirts, and the setting and historical background were very well-detailed for such a short read. Fast-paced, and it’s Venezia. I say again, cool. ♥

Deadwood by Michael Scott – Definitely less in the romance department but much, much more in the steampunk. Deadwood is another fast-paced story focusing on automata and gun-toting humans, so it’s no surprise that it’s all action, action, action. But that’s good; it was a refreshing break from the romances I read before this one, and I loved the intriguing details, like the Shaman-cursed darts.

Rude Mechanicals by Lesley Livingston – Also not all romance – yay! I would have liked a bit more character description and it felt like it just flew past me. But overall, Rude Mechanicals was an interesting tale of technology gone wrong. When your automaton Juliet is a bit too Juliet...

The Vast Machinery by Caitlin Kittredge– This was the shortest story, coming in at 17 pages as opposed to the usual 30 or so. I’m still not entirely sure what to make of this one... Half-interesting and half-confusing, The Vast Machinery is definitely distinctive among the bunch. Think creepy, steampunk muse.

Tick, Tick Boom by Kiersten White – Another very cute read with more steampunk inventions and a budding relationship. It’s all about what lies under appearances in industrial England as they scurry to free Wilcox. Not particularly stand-out, but enjoyable nonetheless. ♥

The Cannibal Fiend or Rotherhithe by Frewin Jones – Two words: cannibalistic mermaids. Mix fairytale with horror story and this is what you would get. Very open ending and a concentration on friendship rather than romance. I didn’t feel that strongly about it, but I admit I was never bored.

The Emperor’s Man by Tiffany Trent – Different in that it was told from a male perspective, though he came off as pretty girly with his heart constantly going patter-patter and practically melting at the feet of the princess (though maybe that’s how guys think?). This story had a fairly well-developed parallel world with interesting inventions and magic, but I just wasn’t drawn into it. Maybe because I couldn’t relate well to the characters when it seemed like the voices were switched between boy and girl...  
Cover: Pretty but nothing to make it stand-out from hundreds of other YA novels. And perhaps it's just my copy, but it was strangely bumpy and rough... Poor thing.

Bottom Line: The stories seem to generally fall under two sections: 1) a bit cliché/not that unique but enjoyable, and 2) very unique but confusing and/or evoke no feeling other than one of interest; most of the stories fall in the former. Still, the majority is short yet pleasurable, like whiffs of a delicious, passing aroma*, and it is steampunk, a sub-genre that I would really love to see more populated.

*Sorry for the cheesy comparison, but I can't think of a better way to describe it. xD