SKY RAT by Angelia Sparrow
Sky Rat by Angelia Sparrow
Pink Petal Books
Historical Science Fiction, Steampunk, M/M
Reviewed by Val
For Henry Toben serving as certified master boilerman aboard the Star of the Sky as the great luxury airship ferries the cream of society between Kansas City and San Francisco is the answer to all his dreams. Working among his boilers and gauges, his life revolves around his two great loves–the sky and his engines.
All that changes when the Star of the Sky runs afoul of pirates. Soon, Henry finds himself the personal captive and “pet rat” of the charismatic pirate captain, Meriwether Volentine. Aboard the pirate’s airship, the Hangman’s Strumpet, the determined and resourceful Henry is determined to return to the life he loves, no matter what it takes. That is, until he finds the one love he’s being missing may just wait in the arms of a legendary pirate.
If you’re not familiar with “steampunk,” it’s a genre of speculative fiction that supposes a 19th Century world where steam-powered dirigibles sail the skies and most everyone you meet is either a mad inventor or a bold man or woman of adventure. The trappings of steampunk are polished brass, goggles, and re-imagined Victorian era clothing.
Sky Rat is probably not a great introduction to the genre. All the requisite trappings are there, but they’re often just out of sight. Young Henry spends most of the early part of the book in darkness of one form or another, preventing us from getting a good look at the airships and, more frustratingly, the skies they sail. But there’s enough steampunk gimcrackery to satisfy a casual interest and, on the plus side, it definitely doesn’t detract from the plot, as is too often the case.
The plot itself was a delightful surprise. What started out looking like a standard pirate-captive love story turned out to be something much more interesting thanks to Henry’s wonderful practicality. His unflagging pragmatism in the face of forced captivity, (mild) bondage and discipline, dubiously consensual encounters, and a host of hairy situations was not only terrifically refreshing, but it made perfect sense given what Angelia Sparrow shares of his background.
Sky Rat isn’t a perfect book. The ending was not quite as climactic as I would have hoped and the couple of instances of violence were a little more graphic than I would have liked, but the language is beautiful, the action is thrilling, and as an unlikely love story, it’s all I could have wanted. For steampunk fans and M/M romance lovers alike, I’d call Sky Rat a definite Recommended Read.