Queen of Clocks and Other Steampunk Tales
Guest Review by Danielle Miller
What would the fairy tales and legends of a steampunk world be? Danielle Miller investigates this collection of retold tales.
What is Queen of Clocks and Other Steampunk Tales About?
This collection of seven short stories was the brainchild of Crysta K. Coburn. She came up with the idea to compile steampunk versions of classic fairy tales and legends. Enough fellow authors took the bait, and this book is the result.
The first of the tales is “The Clockwork Nightingale” by Bess Raechel Goden, a retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen story. “Sleeping Steaming Beauty” by Victoria L. Szulc follows. Both stories warn of the dangers when nature is replaced by industry and mechanization.
“Odyssey?”, by Aaron Isett, reworks Homer’s tale into an alternative Victorian era. Can returning soldiers from the Crimea survive the dangers of the Mediterranean?
“The Marionette”, by Phoebe Darqueling, is based on Pinocchio, but with a sinister twist. The artificial boy has no strings, but also no heart nor soul.
After this comes “The Little Wind-up Mermaid” by K. Gray. An undersea princess goes through horrors to gain access to the land.
“Treasure”, by Crysta K. Coburn, is a steampunk automaton take on Snow White. How does the beautiful queen compete with an unchanging beauty?
The last of the stories is “Queen of Clocks” by Thomas Gregory. An unappreciated clock maker’s apprentice finds work in a strange world of clockwork.
What I Thought of Queen of Clocks and Other Steampunk Tales
First; do steampunk fairy tales and legends work? The answer is an emphatic yes. All the stories have an olde worlde approach, which works for this type of tale.
Second, what did I think of the tales? Before I answer that, just to say I enjoyed reading all the stories, but as with any collection some appeal to you more than others. Another reader would disagree with my choices, but that is only right and proper.
All seven authors drop us into alternative worlds as you expect in both steampunk and fairy tales. With short stories there is no room for intricate world building, but all are familiar enough. The characters all engage and work well. My favourite was the Inventor from “The Little Wind-up Mermaid”; so steampunk, and such an interesting creation.
As you would expect, the mood varies between the stories. None are light, with all the fairy tale standards of loss, betrayal and revenge within. But the darkest was the dripping, Poe-like horror of “The Marionette.” That exquisite structure made this story my favourite. But these are all well-crafted and none left me unmoved or uninterested. As with all short stories, one or two of the endings felt a little rushed. But that again is a matter of taste and choice.
So, would I recommend this collection? Absolutely! It is like classic fairy tales in being aimed at children of all ages. I, for one, look forward to another collection.
Danielle Miller is a cabaret artiste and sometime steampunk author based in Cornwall, UK. Raised by engineers in East Anglia, she ran away to London as a teenager and never looked back. Find her on Facebook at or her author page.