The Music Box Girl by K A Stewart #SPFBO


MusicboxThe Music Box Girl was my sixth SPFBO book (details here.).  This is a book that borrows very heavily from the Phantom of the Opera story but brings something new to the tale with the addition of steampunk elements and a most unexpected ‘phantom’.  To be honest I had a good time with this one.  It’s got a good pace, the focus isn’t all on the musical elements, which I did worry about going in but needn’t have done so, and whilst there is a bit of a cheesy feel to the ending I found this a quick and enjoyable read.

At the start of the story we make the brief acquaintance of a couple of characters sorting through the clutter in an attic when they come across an unknown manuscript and this is where the story begins.

We start with a hopeful young man called Anton as he follows his dreams to the Opera House hoping to become the next tenor.  The role is currently filled, albeit it by a fellow who is past his prime and is also something of a prima donna to boot.  Anton ends the day without an audition in sight but with a job under his belt working with the stage crew.  Anton has a wonderful voice, full of promise, if in need of a bit of tutoring.  Waiting in the wings, of course, is the character that everyone believes to be the ghost of the Opera House, a character that wants the performance to be perfect and sees in Anton the opportunity to accomplish that goal.  All Anton needs is a few lessons from a master performer.

I won’t go too much more into the plot, this is a fast paced book that makes for a remarkably quick read so there’s no need for me to be throwing out spoilers left and right.

The characters – the primary focus is Anton and of course the woman who reappears in his life, an adventurer known as Bess.  These two were childhood friends but as their relationship began to develop, and perhaps teetered on the edge of something more, Bess was sent away to school by her mother who was only too aware of the inappropriateness of such a match.  For years Bess has travelled the world, taking part in adventures with her stories being written about on a regular basis in the newspapers back home.  She doesn’t want to stay at home and wear corsets – and who can blame her – she longs for something more, only returning begrudgingly home to recharge her batteries after her last jaunt went a little bit pear shaped.  Of course, the fates intervene and not only does Anton find himself performing on the opening night but Bess, accompanying her old friend and husband on a rare night out, find themselves with box seats.  And voila – the two are reunited.

Again, I won’t go into the mystery character – other than to say here lies jealousy, obsession and danger.

The setting is Detroit.  A bustling hive of activity.  Home to the invention of automatons that are now used far and wide it has become the centre of innovation and culture.  The Opera House is the gleaming gem in the Detroit crown.

What did I like about this, there’s mystery and intrigue, secret passages, ghosts, steampunk elements, a mild romance, jealousy, murder and chase scenes that end in escape by dirigible.  This is a fast paced read, the pages just fly by and I found myself wanting to read on to find out what was really going on.  There is enough attention to detail to put you into the frame without being overdone and the author manages to create a lingering feeling of creepy suspense and provides the place with a touch of old fashioned gothic.

Did I have criticisms.  Yes.  This could have used a little more finesse.  Certain elements were rather cheesy, particularly the ending.  The characters are not particularly deep and certain elements of the story didn’t entirely make sense, or at least certain actions of some of the characters.  I think if you were of a mind to, you could probably pick a few holes here and there but to be honest, I wasn’t of a mind to – I was, purely and simply, enjoying the fact that I could so easily sink into the story and enjoy the entertainment.

A good read, not particularly ground breaking I suppose but a new twist on an old tale with plenty of action and drama to help you power through it.


Friday Firsts : The Music Box Girl by K A Stewart

Friday Firsts
 is a new meme that runs every Friday over on Tenacious Reader. The idea is to feature the first few sentences/paragraph of your current book and try and outline your first impressions as a result. This is a quick and easy way to share a snippet of information about your current read and to perhaps tempt others.  Stop on by and link up with Tenacious Reader.    This Friday I’m reading : The Music Box Girl by K A Stewart.

Musicbox‘The thick coating of dust proved that no one had been in the attic for decades.  Felicia surveyed the vast expanse of the room, stretching the entire length of the enormous house, and wondered how they’d ever get through it all.

“Where do we start, Mother?”

The girl at her elbow, a budding young lady of almost thirteen, had her blond hair bound up in a tight tail, a cloth tied around her face to avoid breathing in the plumes of dust that billowed up every time one of them moved.

“At one end, of course!”  Casimir, his young nephew Peter thrown giggling over one shoulder, marched off under the eaves with lantern in hand.

Felicia shook her head in amusement at her brother.  He was trying so hard to make this a game, and not the sad and depressing task that it was.  “Start here, Josie.  We’ll sort out anything salvageable, and then the furniture can be hauled out by the automatons. Peter, why don’t you and Uncle Cas start on that wardrobe.”

Some of the things she recognised, Felicia realised.  A doll that she’d long ago lost and forgotten.  A picture drawn in her primary school days, lovingly kept but brittle with age.  An entire crate of baby clothes, though it was anyone’s guess if they’d been hers or Casimir’s.

My First Impressions

I’m intrigued – why are they sorting out the things in this dusty attic, it’s a ‘sad and depressing task’ apparently, have they fallen on hard times and are leaving their home?  Has somebody passed away?  I’ll have to read on and find out.

What you reading this Friday??

*The above excerpt was taken from an advanced reader copy and it is possible that the final version may have further changes.

My 6th book: Final Stage: #SPFBO 16

FullSizeRender-10November 1st saw the start of the second stage of the SPFBO – the Self Published Fantasy Blog off organised by Mark Lawrence.  All the details can be found here.

Today I’m highlighting the sixth book that I will be reading for the SPFBO.  All the books have been drawn randomly. Book No 1: Shadow Soul by Caitlyn Davis, review here.  Second book Paternus by Dyrk Ashton (review here).  My third book was the The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French.  The fourth book was Larcourt K A Krantz ( Fire Born, Blood Blessed #1) My review to follow shortly.  The fifth book was Defence of Ráth Bládhma (Fionn mac Cumhaill #1) by Brian O’Sullivan, again, review to follow shortly.  My sixth book out of the hat is The Music Box Girl by K.A. Stewart.

Steam and steel are king, nowhere more so than Detroit, the gleaming gem of the world’s industrial crown. A beacon of innovation and culture, it is the birthplace of the mechanical automatons, and the home of the famed Detroit Opera House. It is where people come with their dreams, their plans, and their secrets.

A young man with the voice of an angel and dreams of stardom.

A globe-trotting heiress with a passion for adventure and memories of a lost childhood love.

A mysterious woman with a soul made of pure music and a secret worth killing for.

Beneath the glitter and sparkle, something sinister lurks at the opera, and three lives will collide with tragic consequences.