Saturday, 26 May 2012

The Bewitching Tale of Stormy Gale by Christine Bell

The Bewitching Tale of Stormy Gale by Christine Bell is the second story set in the same world and with the same protagonists. I read it without reading the first novella, The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale, also from Carina Press, and I didn’t feel this novel/novella (it’s right on the cusp) suffered for it. I suspect it contained many spoilers for the first story, and I can guess the general plot of the first story, but at no point did I feel lost or confused for not having read it.

That said, it’s possible this review might contain spoilers for The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale simply because I’m not entirely sure which bits might be spoilery. You’ve been warned.

Stormy, as she is affectionately known, is apparently a time pirate. I say apparently because nothing particularly piratical takes place in BToSG (sorry, it’s too long to keep typing out), but it’s part of her back story. She was born in 19th century London, spent her childhood poor and on the streets until she was taken in by a time-traveller who took her and her adopted brother to the 21st century at age 14ish. Now living in the 19th century and married to the Duke of Leister, I found Stormy a little too blasé about her acquired wealth. I was willing to believe that hanging out in the 21st century modern mannerisms might have rubbed off on her, but I was unwilling to believe that after a childhood of poverty she could so casually mention her toddler daughter intentionally destroying a dress without being angry for her ungratefulness. (Especially since Stormy isn’t a bad person.) It was a really minor, throw-away line but it bothered me for the lack of authenticity.

The story revolves around Stormy identifying a suspicious time traveller, having her husband and brother help her follow him around and then a rescue adventure after her brother accidentally gets himself transported in time with aforementioned shifty time traveller. They end up in Salem a couple of years after the witch trials where her brother appearing out of time gets him arrested for witchcraft. Of course.

It was a fun read. Not the kind of story to be taken too seriously because then you start noticing the people in the past sounding a little bit too much like modern Americans. There was a surprising twist near the end which livened it up after I thought the tying up of loose ends would be predictable. Stormy started out as brash and amusing but later on became a bit less of the strong heroine I was expecting. From what we learnt/were told about her, I expected more saving of the day on her part.

I’ve tagged it as romance, because it’s marketed thus, but the pairing isn’t the main character (since Stormy is already married). This didn’t bother me at all, but I thought maybe I should warn romance readers who might be expecting more.

Overall, I might pick up the first story and/or the sequel (when it becomes available at some unknown point in the future). I recommend it to anyone interested in a light time-travel story, with some light steampunk overtones and a bit of romance thrown in.

I received an advanced review copy of The Bewitching Tale of Stormy Gale courtesy of Carina Press. It will be released on the 28th May and will be purchasable from this link.

3.5 / 5 stars

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