Review: Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill


   Title: Dead Reckoning

   Author: Mercedes Lackey  & Rosemary Edghill

   Publisher: Bloomsbury

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Jett is a girl disguised as a boy, living as a gambler in the old West as she searches for her long-lost brother. Honoria Gibbons is a smart, self-sufficient young woman who also happens to be a fabulous inventor. Both young women travel the prairie alone – until they are brought together by a zombie invasion! As Jett and Honoria investigate, they soon learn that these zombies aren’t rising from the dead of their own accord … but who would want an undead army? And why? This gunslinging, hair-raising, zombie western mashup is perfect for fans of Cowboys vs. Aliens and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.


I haven’t read anything by Mercedes Lackey in a long, long time, and I don’t think I have ever read Rosemary Edghill, and that’s something I would like to rectify, because I enjoyed Dead Reckoning. Though there are some pacing issues at the end, and few too many convenient coincidences, I found my time  with Jett, White Fox, and Gibbons well spent. These characters were easy to like.  I do wish White Fox had been given more depth and more page time.  I loved Gibbons, and thought that she could probably talk her way in to and back out of Fort Knox with a bucket full of gold bars.  She was never content to take anything at face value; she had this all-consuming need to understand the how and the why of everything.  I loved how this drove Jett nuts.  She was more than willing to accept what she saw with her own eyes, and didn’t need to overthink anything.  Gibbons had an annoying habit of getting on her last, frayed nerve, and there was nothing Jett could do once her new acquaintance got on a roll.

I feel that I am still a recent convert to zombie-dom.  I wouldn’t even consider reading a zombie book until after a few reviews of The Enemy and The Forest of Hands and Teeth prompted me to read outside of my comfort zone.  I’m so glad that I did, but I am still a bit squeamish when it comes to rotting corpses.  I can’t be too scared, or I start to feel anxious and worried and I am torn in agony over putting the book aside or mincing cautiously through the pages.  Dead Reckoning was downright creepy in a few parts, but the horror elements weren’t the focus of the story.  If you are looking for a gross out, zombie rampage, you won’t find it here.  Instead, you’ll find a western that’s more medical thriller than zombie apocalypse, with steampunk elements thrown in for good measure.

What made this book for me was the character interaction.  White Fox was the peacemaker between Gibbons and Jett, whose constant head-butting kept me turning the pages.  In the years just after the Civil War, Jett is desperately searching for her twin brother.  She doesn’t believe that he’s dead, and he’s the only family she has left after the devastating war.  Masquerading as a  boy, she pretends to be a gambler and gunslinger, thinking that she’ll encounter less trouble if everyone thinks she is a male.  Having witnessed the looting and destruction of her home by Northerners, she doesn’t have much trust for them.  Fleeing from certain death at the putrefying hands of a zombie army, Jett encounters White Fox and Gibbons – both Yankees and both to be viewed with suspicion.  When Gibbons, who is too clever by far, immediately sees through her disguise, Jett is even more wary of them.  Her continued safety depends on her ruse, and she doesn’t trust either of them to keep her secret.

Though they are very different, both Gibbons and Jett are strong, outspoken women.  Gibbons has gotten grief because of her “outlandish” ideas and demeanor, but she refuses to be something that she’s not.  She prizes science and thinks that if she only looks hard enough, she’ll find a rational reason for everything.  Even an apparent zombie horde.  She has no patience for simpering females, or their ridiculous clothing.  Jett, on the other hand, enjoyed wearing frilly gowns and attending parties.  She blames the war for changing her life so drastically, and she believes that after she locates her brother, she can go back to her idea of normal.  They couldn’t be more different, but they both share the courage and resourcefulness to try to stop the zombie army.  Neither of them has a personal stake in this fight, but they won’t ignore their moral obligation to save the countless lives that would be lost if they didn’t put a stop to it.  They made a great team, I would love to see them take on another fight in the future.  I feel that White Fox was seriously underutilized here, and would like another chance for him to prove his mettle.

Dead Reckoning is a fun read with zombies, a Western setting, and steampunk elements.  The pacing was a bit off near the end as the villain rambled on without end, gloating about his superior intellect and forthcoming victory. Despite that, this is a fast, popcorn read with a cast of diverse personalities that are thrown together and forced to stop a zombie army – even though one of their number doesn’t believe in zombies.    

Grade: B/B-

Available in Print and Digital

Review copy provided by publisher

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Cover Shot! Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café.  I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share.  More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents.  There is an allure to a beautiful cover.  Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

This cover made me stop and say “Holy CRAP!! What a pretty cover!”  Then I saw that Incarnation by Emma Cornwall is steampunk, and I wanted to read it even more.  Isn’t the cover breathtaking?  I love the burst of color from the coat and the woman’s hair.  Just commands that you look at it again and again!


In the steampunk world of Victorian London, Lucy Weston, a character in Dracula, seeks out Bram Stoker to discover why he deliberately lied about her in his popular novel.

With Stoker’s reluctant help, she tracks the creature who transformed her from the sensual underworld where humans vie to become vampires to a hidden cell beneath a temple to madness and finally into the glittering Crystal Palace where death reigns supreme. Haunted by fragmentary memories of her lost life and love, Lucy battles her thirst for blood as she struggles to stop a catastrophic war that will doom vampires and humans alike. Ultimately, she makes a choice that illuminates for her–and for us–the true nature of what it means to be human.

In stores September 2012


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Interview with Delilah Dawson, Author of Wicked As They Come

Delilah Dawson is the author of Wicked As They Come, a dark magical steampunk romance.  Delilah very graciously agreed to drop by the virtual offices to chat up her book and her writing influences.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Delilah Dawson] Writer, geek, goof, artist, synesthete, progenitor, cake guru, boot junkie, steampunk/cephalopod/ninja/vampire/narwhal/silly hat enthusiast.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Wicked As They Come?

[Delilah Dawson] Wicked as They Come is about a woman named Tish fleeing a bad relationship who inadvertently steals a locket and is whisked away to a magical steampunk Victorian world called Sang. Not everyone there is human, and the spell that called her was cast by a rakish magician named Criminy Stain. He runs a traveling carnival and is a Bludman, which is a blood drinker without all the garlic/nocturnal/cross business. Adventures ensue, including corsets, ghosts, submarines, bloodthirsty rabbits, and a kraken. I basically just threw all my favorite things into one story. Except cake. I somehow completely forgot to include cake.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the book?

[Delilah Dawson] It was an enormously lucky coincidence, sort of like when the person holding the peanut butter ran into the person holding the chocolate. I found the band The Hush Sound on and purchased their album, Like Vines. After listening to it all day and watching several episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I had a dream that I woke up naked on a rock in the forest. I thought I was alone, but then I looked up and saw this gorgeous guy in a cravat who looked like a very naughty version of Mr. Darcy and talked a lot like Buffy’s Spike. He became Criminy Stain, and the rest of the story just happened. You can detect several hints from Like Vines in the story, such as Criminy comparing Tish to a sweet tangerine or the magnolia mentioned in one character’s garden.

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the story?

[Delilah Dawson] Going through the edit process with my agent. The last book we worked on together was middle grade, and it was *very* different writing a romance. We had to have a phone conversation to work through the kinks, and I had to cut a scene that we both loved. In the end, I agreed with every change recommended by my agent and, later, my editor. The work is infinitely stronger thanks to their savvy direction. I also had to be forced into writing the sex scenes, which were originally all black-outs. My beta readers protested loudly!

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Criminy would never have in his jacket pockets?

[Delilah Dawson] Good gravy, that man’s pockets are similar to Mary Poppins’ carpet bag! I suppose he wouldn’t have cyanote or sea water in there, since they could actually harm him. And probably not a live bludrat, either. Anything else would be fair game.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Delilah Dawson] I’m a big geek, so I love well-crafted and original stories. This book was a little bit influenced by Buffy, and the book I’m working on now, a clockpunk Robin Hood, smacks a bit of Mal Reynolds and Firefly. Joss Whedon perfectly marries smart writing, humor, and unique storytelling, to me. I read constantly, with a different book in the car, at the kitchen table, on my bedside table. And every book I write has a playlist that I listen to obsessively while writing.

[Manga Maniac Café] Name three things do you need in order to write?

[Delilah Dawson] Coffee, music, and an environment free of children. Tiny voices make my mental train derail.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Delilah Dawson] One? Just one? Tough choice! The first "big kid" book I read straight through in one sitting was King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry. I still remember what it felt like, waking up after the last page and being extremely surprised that I wasn’t surrounded by desert sands and dishy-faced horses.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Delilah Dawson] Reading, watching movies, climbing trees, spending time with my family, playing on Twitter and Facebook, hanging out with friends, working on my steampunk outfits. My favorite thing on earth is horseback riding, but I haven’t gotten to do that much since moving to the suburbs and having kids. And I adore traveling. I get super excited every time I get on a plane.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!

You can learn more about Delilah by visiting the following websites:





Simon & Schuster Author Portal:

Wicked As They Come will be in stores March 27.  You can pre-order a copy by clicking the widgets below:

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Cover Shot! Riveted by Meljean Brook

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café.  I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share.  More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents.  There is an allure to a beautiful cover.  Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I love this cover!  It makes me think of pirates and danger and adventure.  Definitely something that I want to read! I haven’t read any of the Iron Seas yet,  but after seeing the cover for Riveted, I am going to have to make the time to get all caught up by September.  Are you following the series? Do you recommend it?



A century after a devastating volcanic eruption forced Iceland’s inhabitants to abandon its shores, the island has become enshrouded in legend. But the truth behind the legends is mechanical, not magical—and the mystery of the island a matter of life and death for a community of women who once spilled noble blood to secure their freedom.

Five years ago, Annika unwittingly endangered that secret, but her sister Källa took the blame and was exiled. Now Annika serves on an airship, searching for her sister and longing to return home. But that home is threatened when scientific expedition leader David Kentewess comes aboard, looking to expose Annika’s secrets. Then disaster strikes, leaving David and Annika stranded on a glacier and pursued by a madman, with their very survival depending on keeping the heat rising between them—and generating lots of steam.


In stores September 2012

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Interview with Trisha Wolfe, Author of Destiny’s Fire

Trisha Wolfe is the author of Destiny’s Fire, an steam punk novel with shape-shifters, airships, and cute guys.  Trisha dropped by the virtual offices to tell us more about her book.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Trisha Wolfe] Extremely trivial and dramatic with moments of sheer clarity that results in determination and madness.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about your book, Destiny’s Fire?

[Trisha Wolfe] It’s really hard for me to sum it up. I’ve tried…many times lol. So how about the blurb? I worked on that for a long time:

It’s the year 2040, and sixteen-year-old Dez Harkly is one of the last of her kind—part of a nearly extinct race of shape-shifters descended from guardians to the Egyptian pharaohs. Her home and her secret are threatened when the Council lowers the barrier, allowing the enemy race to enter the Shythe haven.

As the Narcolym airships approach, Dez and her friends rebel against their Council and secretly train for battle. Not only is Dez wary of war and her growing affection for her best friend Jace, but she fears the change her birthday will bring. When Dez’s newfound power rockets out of control, it’s a Narcolym who could change her fate… if she can trust him.

Dez’s guarded world crumbles when she discovers why the Narcos have really come to Haven Falls, and she’s forced to choose between the race who raised her and the enemy she’s feared her whole life.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Trisha Wolfe] For me, the characters always come first. They just pop into my head, like I’ve known them my whole life, and then I start building the world around them. When Dez came to me, she came packaged with secrets and powers, and I had to find a way to implement that into a story. I made a list of things I loved, and ancient Egypt was at the top. I did some research, and then started the story.

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

[Trisha Wolfe] Dez and Jace’s relationship. I believe I struggled with it as much if not more than Dez. I love Jace, and there were some very difficult scenes that I wrote, that almost got cut or changed, but I decided to be true to the character and to people in general in the end. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes, and that’s a big part of learning and growing. It’s a part of life, and I felt that both Dez and Jace needed to go through some things to discover the truth. If it had been avoided, I feel it would have made a weaker relationship between them.

[Manga Maniac Café] Name three things Dez would never have in her pockets.

[Trisha Wolfe] Anything. She carries all her stuff in a belt bag 😉

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Trisha Wolfe] Anne Rice and Voltaire’s Candide.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

My bed. Reese’s Sticks. Coke.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Trisha Wolfe] Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Trisha Wolfe] I listen to a lot of music, and if I can fit it in, TV and movies. Once a year I must have a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon, and I watch all the seasons in order. I do have a family, so I guess I take care of them, too.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!

You can learn more about Trisha by visiting the following websites:


Destiny’s Fire is available now! You can order a copy from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below.  It is available in both print and digital format.


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Cover Shot! The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lility Saintcrow

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café.  I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share.  More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents.  There is an allure to a beautiful cover.  Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

This cover for The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow is not final, but I think it looks incredible just the way it is.  I am looking forward to getting my hands on this, because the premise looks as good as the cover.


Emma Bannon, Prime sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn’t much help that they dislike each other, or that Bannon’s Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen. In an alternate London where illogical magic has turned the Industrial Revolution on its head, Bannon and Clare now face hostility, treason, cannon fire, black sorcery, and the problem of reliably finding hansom cabs.

The game is afoot…

In stores August 2012


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Cover Shot! The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent

Tiffany Trent’s August release, The Unnaturalists, looks like an awesome read.  I haven’t read enough steampunk, so it gets a nod for that, and the premise has me intrigued.  The cover, with the billowing smoke and ruffled shirt, caught my attention.  This was immediately added to my wish list!


In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.

Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.

As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.

In stores August 2012


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Cover Shot! Wicked As They Come by Delilah S Dawson

Ah, take a look at this wicked hottie.  I like the cover for Delilah S Dawson’s debut, Wicked As They Come.  While I am getting tired of covers with half-naked men, and I think he would actually look more intimidating with a shirt on, I love the title font and the blood spatters.  It takes a certain roguishness to pull of the top hat, too, and I think this guy manages quite admirably.  What do you think of this cover?

Have you ever heard of a Bludman? They’re rather like you and me—only more fabulous, immortal, and mostly indestructible. (They’re also very good kissers.)

Delilah S. Dawson’s darkly tempting debut drops her unsuspecting heroine into a strange faraway land for a romantic adventure that’s part paranormal, part steampunk . . . and completely irresistible.

When Tish Everett forces open the ruby locket she finds at an estate sale, she has no idea that a deliciously rakish Bludman has cast a spell just for her. She wakes up in a surreal world, where Criminy Stain, the dashing proprietor of a magical traveling circus, curiously awaits. At Criminy’s electric touch, Tish glimpses a tantalizing future, but she also foresees her ultimate doom. Before she can decide whether to risk her fate with the charming daredevil, the locket disappears, and with it, her only chance to return home. Tish and Criminy battle roaring sea monsters and thundering bludmares, vengeful ghosts and crooked Coppers in a treacherous race to recover the necklace from the evil Blud-hating Magistrate. But if they succeed, will Tish forsake her fanged suitor and return to her normal life, or will she take a chance on an unpredictable but dangerous destiny with the Bludman she’s coming to love?

In stores March 2012

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