#AWW2017 Book Review: “Heart of Brass” by Felicity Banks

Title: Heart of Brass
Author: Felicity Banks
historical/urban fantasy/steampunk
Date Read: 07/05/2017 – 11/05/2017
Rating: ★★★


I have a rather hit-or-miss relationship with steampunk, which I think is my main reason for not engaging with this book very much. It did pick up for me in the last quarter, but up until then, I unfortunately didn’t really feel connected to the story.

When Miss Emmeline Muchamore’s brass heart malfunctions and she is forced to steal the materials she requires to survive, she refuses to reveal her secret and destroy her family’s respectability. As a result, she is transported to van Dieman’s land, subsequently escapes and makes for the Victorian gold fields. But there is unrest amongst the miners. Can Emmeline find the gold to send back to her family and restore their fortune, or will she and her newfound friends be caught?

I think one of my main problems was that I never really warmed up to Emmeline. She was a bit too snobby, and kept talking about how she was the only civilised one around and would have to teach her companions how to behave. It felt out of place given they were on the run and she had already stolen from several people. Her companions, Lizzie (for a whille), then later Matilda and Patrick, were more relatable to me. A conflict with a fellow convict, Dunne, was also well-written.

I did enjoy the idea of different metals having different magical properties, though I felt that not a  huge amount was done with this idea. Every now and then I would forget exactly what magical properties  a particular metal had because it didn’t really come up all that much. Still, the hot air balloon partially levitated by sheets of aluminium was good fun.

I also enjoyed the way the historical events of the Eureka Rebellion were incorporated into the story. I did go away and read the Wikipedia entry on what really happened, and then it was fun to see how Felicity Bank’s version compared. I felt that this was where the story picked up; there was a really engaging climax with lots of action, and a lot of bad things happening that the characters had to  deal with.

As I said, a lot of my lack of enjoyment probably came from the fact that I can’t always get into steampunkish stories. I would recommend this if you are a fan, as you may well enjoy it more than I did.

This review forms part of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge for 2017. Click here for more information.

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