Kirkus: A novella set in the Cinder Spires fantasy universe sees its protagonist caught up in a potentially deadly mission.
Humanity survives in the Spire-cities that tower well above the deadly surface of a steampunk world. Newly minted lieutenant of the Spirearch of Albion’s Guard and warriorborn (denoting a catlike species of humanoids with “enhanced senses and speed”) Sir Benedict Sorellin-Lancaster is called upon by the ruling Spirearch, Lord Albion himself, to go on a secret, undercover mission. He is to take the airship Predator to Colony Dependence, a backwater Spire, on an assignment to retrieve a bag that may or may not contain important intelligence information regarding a looming war with their enemies. Joining him on his mission are three notoriously uncooperative warriorborn, convicted felons who had been captured and put in jail by Benedict and have now been promised their freedom on the condition Benedict survives and successfully returns home. As the ragtag team’s journey proceeds, they investigate the mystery of the inexplicably abandoned Dependence while facing danger and death. While readers familiar with the series will have a better understanding of the ins and outs of the Cinder Spires world, this is mostly a stand-alone story that, despite its brevity, packs a lot of punch in an engaging, fast-paced read with well-defined characters, including Benedict, a reluctant yet fierce hero. But the real standout is one of the secondary characters who follow Benedict into the fray: the warriorborn vigilante serial killer Lady Herringford, who becomes his de-facto second-in-command: “She’d identified his biggest problem and was now attacking it as effectively as an excellent subordinate officer. Evidently, when Matilda Herringford gave her word, she meant it.” Add Steampunk vibes, terrifying monsters, charming talking cats, and an open ending that tantalizes readers into reading the series—this is a recipe for success.
A delectable slice of SF adventure.