I had heard a bunch of good things about “Out of the Shadows” by fellow authors, so when the books popped up as a bundle sale I immediately bought all three in one go… and then let them sit on my kindle forever because I suck. But I did it! I finally read the first book! “Out of the Shadows” follows Lenore as she tries to hide from the sins of her parents, rejected by society and forced to steal for a living in a world where such crimes could land you in prison and tortured for the rest of your days. The land Lenore lives in is post-apocalyptic, but not set in a broken city like most other books. Instead, the people remember the great war that led to the end of magic and wondrous contraptions, and gave rise to the brutal peacekeepers known as the Enforcers. Lenore is barely surviving, when a chance encounter that could be ruinous turns into a blessing and opens a world of opportunity, as long as no one ever finds out who Lenore really is.
If you have never read a steampunk novel before, I think this is an excellent place to start as the touches of steampunk elements are rather subtle and are more true to what steampunk is at its core. There aren’t gears and what not everywhere, this is more a Victorian period piece then a full tilt steam and gears steampunk book like others I’ve read in the genre. It’s subtly was well done, and thus makes it a great introduction into the genre for new comers. Fraedrich is masterful with creating well rounded, complex, three-dimensional characters that fit flawlessly into the world she has created, so reading about these characters, how they interact with one another, and how they survive in this stunning but unforgiving world was a treat. Fraedrich’s writing is both smooth and vibrant; a hard feat to pull off for sure in the first book in a new series!
While I genuinely enjoyed the writing as a whole, this is a rather long and slow book to get through, which makes me believe the next books in the series are just going to fly by—but still. I wasn’t sure what the main plot was after a bit: was it just for Lenore to survive? Because when she’s with the Allens that doesn’t seem like the problem anymore, then I thought it was to solve the mystery as to why people were hunting for Lenore, and who, but that comes in so late and doesn’t get answered that I’m mostly just left unsure. There were a ton of sub plots as well; between what character was going to court who, how Lenore was going to prove herself as a mechanic and scholar of Old World technology, what would happen between her and Rook and their unbreakable bond, what Camilla would do with her low-key dangerous relationship, what exactly happened to make the Enforcers so powerful, why Rook does, well, pretty much anything outside of protecting Lenore. Did I mention there’s a vampire who hangs out in the basement sometimes? Because there is… Anyway, point is, there’s a ton of little intrigues going on between all the characters that I lost the thread of what the greater purpose of the story was. That’s not to say what I read wasn’t interesting, it was! But it did make the pacing rather slow until the end, where things ramp up in preparation for the next book. Plus, I was starting to get a bit annoyed each time Lenore made a comparison that she wasn’t like the other girls, but then she gets frustrated when she wasn’t respected in her field because she is a woman. It was a bit of a double standard that had the feminist in me both proud that Lenore was trying to change gender norms, but aggravated that she so often viewed her fellow females as fluff heads.
While the writing style was a treat, and the characters and their dialogue were all a joy to read, I did feel as if things could have been focused a bit more so the ending didn’t feel as if not much was accomplished in this first book. The truth is, a lot was accomplished, but with the sheer amount of sub plots, it felt a bit disproportionate to me, which is why I am giving this 4 stars. Am I still happy that I bought all three books at once? Absolutely! I enjoyed getting immersed in this new world, even with the love triangle that’s present—it’s done well so I won’t hold it against the book, even though I’m still not a fan of love triangles in general. I can’t wait to see what Lenore, her friends, and her protectors find in this new adventure they are embarking on
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