Book Review: Le Theatre Mecanique by
By setting Le Theatre Mecanique is technically steampunk, but the story itself really isn’t. That’s because this novella is set in the same world (and I believe features one or more characters from) the authors novel The Clockwork Giant.
So don’t go in expecting all the over the top elements that steampunk often denotes. What we’re looking at here is a small and sweet tale about a young man struggling to look after his family and to follow a dream he has.
I’ll call the setting Victorianish just to give you a rough idea of how life is for the poorer people in this world. Things are perpetually teetering on the edge of disaster. Work is hard, manual labor. Lots of it.
And yet Solomon Wade maintains a remarkably positive attitude towards life even as he takes on more work and more responsibility to help out his family. His part time position as a the theater’s custodian gives him hope for the future. Until he has to give that up too.
His friendship with Miss Appleton is the sweet element of the tale. A very gentle and courteous romance. And if she is technically the damsel in distress of the tale she is not a doormat or one dimensional.
There’s no big crisis here, not large scale drama. It’s a character based piece that plays it’s emotional beats very well making you care about how it is all going to work out.
I found it a welcome change of pace from some of the other stuff I’ve been reading recently and at novella length it knows not to outstay it’s welcome. The story is told without dragging it into the realms of false melodrama.
I can’t label it a must read because it’s a novella set in a larger work. But it’s certainly a rewarding read.