Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second book I added to my to-read list after meeting Ms. Fan at Farpoint 2019. Even though both Starswept and this one are rated 4 stars, that’s more a consequence of only have 5 stars to choose from, because I enjoyed this book more than Starswept. STaBD had two things going for it steampunk and immediate action. Taking the last one first, as I noted in my Starswept review, the early, slow chapters are key in providing a base from which to deviate in later chapters. But there’s just something so exciting about a book opening up with a bunch of warrior women fighting demons that makes you want to keep going. (By the way, I’ll admit to my unconscious bias – until specifically called out, I’d assuming our main character was a man)
So … Steampunk. I’m not the type of person who cosplays Steampunk or anything, but as a genre it always starts things at a higher level when I find myself in a Steampunk world. Ms. Fan, however, has given me something new and fun here. Most Steampunk takes place in England, The Commonwealth, and occasionally, on The Continent. But this story takes place in Victorian China. And it has demons and ghosts and stuff and my ignorance over Chinese mythology leaves me unsure how much is made up by Ms. Fan and how much is known mythology.
The story turns out to be part mystery, part unwanted arranged marriage, part Mulan, and part romance. And it works! Sure, Anlie is a bit of a Tsundere character and that can get a little tiresome, but she does eventually learn some character growth. If you like Steampunk, but are tired of the same old stuff, check this out and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.
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