New Avalon by Neal F Litherland

New Avalon: Love and Loss in the City of Steam Paperback - March 28, 2015 - Neal F. Litherland James Ward Kirk (Contributor)

This is a collection of short stories set in the mystical steam punk city of New Avalon. In each of these stories we meet two people who, through the vagaries of magic, weird science and high emotion, find love… and a great deal of tragedy.

And each one is pretty much beautiful. Whether it’s the old tinker who waited his whole life to meet the beloved whose life he saved (but waited just a bit too long), or the captain who’s new invention inspires the equally passionate enthusiasm of his lover… only for that same invention to bring them crashing tragically to earth. To the spy who unintentionally fell in love for her target – but now they must both feel the wrath of their employers. To the gentle kind man who knows the secrets of death who pays the ultimate price to bring his true love back only to find it go terribly terribly wrong or the frustrated woman continually performing atrocities in the desperate attempt to keep her love around…


Tragedy and love are in every story. Whether it’s love lost, a love dying or utter desperation and people pursue love to their own destruction or damnation.

And it is really beautiful, I say this again. Each story is elaborate, amazingly well written and well paced with perfectly chosen word use. It’s ornate without being excessive, evocative without being purple, emotional without being overwrought. It’s an excellently well crafted book full of very well written stories of love and grief in this city


The city (or cities… which I will get to) is also nicely presented, with each character we can picture where they are and the challenges they face and even the background on which their sagas are painted. The backdrop is very vibrant


I just… don’t really understand this book. I don’t understand it conceptually. Of course, I have to admit, again, that I do not like short stories except within a relatively narrow set of circumstances (usually when they’re an ongoing part of a series adding new light to that series or as a stand alone that tells a complete story). The short stories in this book didn’t fit either of these categories.


Each story is extremely short, telling a short complete story within a central theme. They are closed stories, none of them particularly needs developing further – but that’s because there’s not much more to tell. Not that these characters couldn’t have more development or more plots in their future, it’s just that none of it is developed sufficiently to make me invest in their stories above and beyond what is presented. More could be told about their experiences and what happens from here – but I’m happy that the story is closed because I don’t really care to go any further. This is not really an ideal way to achieve that “stand alone complete story” for me – just have one event with no suggestion that I’d be interested in anything else.


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