A Matter of Temperance Book Review

A Few Thoughts on Indie Publishing Before I Begin

When I was taking Art History classes in college, one of my favorite units was on “art of the naïve.” We often associate naivety with negative connotations, such as uncouth or ignorant. But in this case it simply means “untrained.” So, artwork of this kind is the result of the creative impulse pouring itself out through someone who was not an “artist” by training. They were spontaneous and made their art only for their personal satisfaction. There was something so pure and remarkable in these unpolished and unorthodox works; the joy of the uncontained creative spark.

In my class we were looking at visual arts, of course. But this same idea plays itself out in other arenas as well. Probably the most obvious is in self-publishing. A Matter of Temperance (and its nine sequels) are a great example of one of these works that came pouring out from an unlikely source. There is a charming aspect to the way author Ichabod Temperance eschews some of the “rules” of writing because he is simply driven to create something. There are a lot of indie Steampunk authors like “Icky” out there, and I hope they all keep following their writing impulses.

By the time Temperance sent me a few of his books to review, we had already been friends online for a long time. He’d been a faithful following of my first blog, but it wasn’t until I got an e-mail talking about his books that I knew how he found his way to writing. He and his muse, Persephone Plumtartt, are characters born of a fun little exercise they both did years ago. The Steampunk Empire has place for people to create profiles for imaginary Steampunk personas, and the two of them each imagined their own. After seeing what the other one wrote, they realized that these two would have marvelous adventures together, and furthermore, they absolutely should. Ten books later, Temperance tells me he has so much fun writing them he has no intention to stop.

What is A Matter of Temperance About?

A Matter of Temperance is the first book in the series, but each book can stand on its own and be read in any order. The world Mr. Temperance and Ms. Plumtartt inhabit is an alternate version of the 1870’s. A few years earlier, the passage of “The Revelatory Comet” changed the trajectory of human existence. After the comet disappeared, some people began to show signs of extraordinary abilities, especially for inventing and problem-solving. Ichabod, a simple young man from Alabama, is one of these tinkerers, and he creates specialized goggles. He’d never left his homeland, so when an order comes in from London, he decides to venture forth and deliver the goggles in person.

Meanwhile, there has been a series of attacks by “ghosts,” or at least, that is what they are calling the unseen entities. Ms. Plumtartt is a recent heir to the Plumtartt manufacturing fortune after the strange death of her father at the hands on an otherworldly foe. Together, they soon discovers, they are not ghosts at all. Instead, these trans-dimensional beasties seem bent on destroying not only her father’s work, but her as well. After a daring rescue by Ichabod, the two set off on a journey that takes them all over the world, including a trip into the belly of the Kraken itself.

What I Thought of A Matter of Temperance

Is this book a masterpiece of fiction? No, but very few are. Did I enjoy reading it? Absolutely. The story had a lot of imagination, and I liked that Temperance created his own unique monsters. There were a few places where the lack of dialog tags made it a bit difficult to follow. There were also a few time I was unsure the word on the page was what Icky truly intended. On the flip side, there was a lot of fun alliteration that made me smile and felt appropriate in this light-hearted tale. This is one of those “no-no’s” you’ll get in a creative writing class, but I found it refreshing.

We featured a sample of this book as part of our Steampunk Read campaign before I officially joined the Journal. And you can also read the teaser and the prologue of the sequel, A World of InTemperance starting tomorrow. Check out Icky’s website for more info about the world these characters inhabit and the many inventions of Ichabod.

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