Steampunk books largely fall within three categories. There are altered histories, where stories take place in the “real” world but with changes. Then there are stories set in purely fantastical realms. And finally, there are books that take readers between the real world and a fantastical world through a portal or some other means, which is sometimes referred to as “second-world Steampunk.” I’ve got quite a lot of experience with that final one in my own novel, Riftmaker.
A Dream of Emerald Skies also falls squarely in the final camp. It follows a young woman as she explores a strange new world in her dreams. During the day, she has to face her parents’ divorce and a mountain of coursework. But at night, she gets to train as a detective in the city of Emerald, a mysterious realm enshrouded in a green mist that is unknown to outsider. When the two worlds start bleeding together, she has to not only decide who to trust, but which world she wants to call home.
It’s a novella, so it is a good choice for people who don’t have a lot of extra time for reading. But it is also the first book in a series, so there is also a lot of story left to be told. In some ways, it felt more like the first act of a novel rather than a standalone story, but the situations and characters Szulc creates are pretty cool. The Young Society series fits into a much larger series of books all set in the same world that includes The Society Trilogy and Dolls of Society stories. So if you are in the mood for a deep dive, there’s plenty of opportunity for that, too.