Friday, February 17, 2012

Women in Horror: Ganymede

Josephine Early is the madame of a bordello, known in more polite circles as a lady's boarding house, in New Orleans. She also conducts even more covert dealings as an informer and advocate for the United States in the Civil War. Her newest project involves a gigantic underwater craft, stolen from the Confederacy, that could be the deciding factor in the war. If only anyone knew if it worked. Anyone who worked on it or knew anything about it is either dead or in jail. As a result, this project isn't the highest on the US's list since there's no guarantee Ganymede would be worth the effort. In desperation, Josephine asks an old flame, Andan Cly, to pilot it. A (mostly) reformed pirate, Cly decides to help out his old friend while simultaneously completing a legitimate deal in Seattle. As Cly makes his way to New Orleans, another threat presents itself to Josephine: zombis. Can Cly pilot the Ganymede without dying and can they transport the craft to the US before zombis or the Confederacy get to them?

Ganymede is the fourth installment in Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century series. An alternative history of the Civil War is built with zombies, fantastical machines, and steampunk elements. I loved Boneshaker and I had to get my hands on Ganymede. It definitely doesn't disappoint. The individual characters are dynamic and interesting to read. Josephine is a bi-racial madame with a heart of gold. She's incredibly strong and fiercely protective of her loved ones, including her ladies and her brother. Able to handle herself in a fight, she even successfully fights off zombies. I liked that she was strong, but didn't lose her femininity or become completely emotionless because of it. Ruthie, one of Josephine's employees, is also a strong character who isn't afraid to use her feminine wiles to overcome obstacles. There is a surprising twist with her near the end of the story. Although the delivery was a little abrupt, the meaning is important and makes the story a little more interesting. Cherie Priest is especially skilled in creating a believable web of characters.

Although I really enjoyed Ganymede, I would have loved to see more of the social implications played out between the characters. Many of them are from different backgrounds and wouldn't really get along so well right away. The mixed race brothel led by a bi-racial woman would have turned a few heads or incurred scrutiny or conflict from the Confederacy or southern people in support of slavery. All of the interactions were a little too smooth, including that between Josephine and Andan. You'd think there would have been more tension and conflict between Andan's feelings for Briar, his current love, and Josephine. Each character was dynamic on their own, but more conflict should have been generated between them. Madame Laveau, an aged and powerful voodoo practitioner based on a real person, was also a wasted opportunity that could have had larger implications.

Ganymede is a fun adventure story with interesting characters. Although there are faults, the battle scenes were exciting and suspenseful. It's not my favorite book in the series, but it's still a fun steampunk novel.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

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