About the Book
BEAST HEART by Kyle Richardson
RELEASE DATE: 3/31/20
GENRE: YA / Paranormal / Steampunk
BOOK PAGE: https://www.meerkatpress.com/books/beast-heart/
When the girl with the clockwork hand meets the boy with the beast heart, sparks fly in this poignant, adventure-filled debut.
Book 1 of the Steambound Trilogy. When Gabby’s hand turns to steam, her mom hires an engineer to build her a clockwork glove. It’s the last thing Gabby wants—if only she could be normal. But when her mom is attacked by something monstrous, normal is no longer an option. Now the only person she can turn to is a grizzled detective, who promises to help her become something … more.
Meanwhile, Kemple’s foster dad treats him like a slave. And the beatings are getting worse. So when a rebellious girl named Josephyn arrives—with a plan to escape to the city—he doesn’t hesitate. But there are creatures in Iron Bay whose slashes are worse than skin-deep. And as Kemple evolves into something inhuman, his search for a cure begins. They are strangers in a city where carriages rattle, airships rumble, and where their own dark pasts continue to haunt them. Soon their paths will collide, and the girl who slays monsters will come face to face with the boy who is becoming a beast.
You know, I can’t for the life of me remember the last steampunk book I read! Maybe it was never! Which is actually really a shock to me because I think the genre is so cool! WAIT! Does The Infernal Devices count? Anyways, this book was such a refreshing take on the paranormal genre and I was so enthralled with the story!
I love how the two parallel stories blended and morphed into one. I am kind of a snob when it comes to dual perspectives (*insert me turning my nose up*), so it really takes amazing characters for me to love books that are set up like this. So I was REALLY happy when I found myself totally in love with each of the MCs. I mean, it probably helped that I’m a glutton for characters with dark and gloomy backgrounds.
Which leads me to saying that this book isn’t just sunshine and daisies. These characters have been through the ringer yet they keep thriving and doing the unthinkable: living. The only downside was how short this book was! I know that it’s going to be a trilogy, but that means I have to wait to continue and find out what happens next! But anyways, this book is utterly unique and I need more stories like this! I feel like a lot of times lately I am let down because I just feel like I’m rereading the same stories over and over again, so this was a little gem to find amongst all of those!
Brielle has been trying to sleep for the past hour or so—trying being the key word. Mostly, her mind has been stuck in that foggy realm between asleep and awake, that space where pain and pleasure blend, where sounds seem to warble from an unimaginable distance and the tears welling in her eyes feel like they’ve been set on fire, as if at any moment one might slip loose and scorch a trail down the side of her face, igniting her starchy sheets and her lumpy mattress and her cramped little apartment, and even the garbage-strewn streets themselves, until the whole city is nothing but a towering inferno and—
The door thuds hard, once, twice, the sound echoing through her dusty apartment, and Brielle bolts upright with her hair matted over her face, her clockwork glove tangled in her sheets. She was dreaming about . . . something. Something involving . . . fire? She rubs at her face with her good hand and tries to pull the dream back into place, but it just slips away even more. Eventually it’s gone completely, leaving nothing but a faint quiver in her gut and a vague sense of regret.
“Gone,” she whispers with a frown. It’s the story of her life—she’s become such an expert at losing things.
The door thuds again. This time, the knock comes with a voice. “Gabrielle,” says a man. His tone is dry, impatient, and all-too familiar. “Get up. We got problems.”
Brielle sighs, uses her wrist to rub the dampness from her eyes, and yanks her glove free from the sheet. It’s too early for problems. Too early for anything, really. “Shaw,” she groans, “I’m trying to sleep.” She squints at the violet sky through her grimy living room window and says, “Come back later. You know, when the sun is up? When normal people interact?”
Shaw grunts through the door. “You don’t sleep. Said so yourself. And since when do you think of either of us as normal?”
Brielle grits her teeth and brushes her hair behind her ears. As always, the man has a point. “Just give me a minute, will you?”
The door stays quiet for a brief, merciful moment, and Brielle lets the silence wash over her until the tightness in her chest eases, the ripples in her mind going flat. Soon, she’s back in that clear and level place. Calm as a windless lake.
“Still alive in there?” Shaw barks. “I’m dying of old age, standing here.”
Brielle rolls her eyes behind her smudged lenses and swings her legs off the mattress. Her bare feet scuff against the dusty wood floor. “I’m not dressed,” she calls out, looking down at her pale nightshirt. She stands and tugs at her gray cotton pants. They’re fitting loose today. All these years of climbing up rusted ladders and sprinting across crumbling rooftops, and she still has sticks for legs.
“So get dressed,” Shaw says through the door. “But make it quick. Like I said: we got problems.”
She listens for that telltale hitch in Shaw’s voice—that tiny warble between his words whenever something has truly upset him. Today, it isn’t there. His voice is steady. His words are flat. Whatever the problem is, it’s clearly something minor. “Why’re you rushing me?” she calls out.
Shaw says nothing back, so she trudges over to her doorless wardrobe and peers at the stretched-out shirts hanging from the rod. The selection is dreary: all blacks and browns and muted grays, the necklines tattered and thin. She plucks the nearest one off its hanger, yanks it down over her nightshirt, and pulls the torn sleeve over her bulky glove. Then she steps to the side and blinks at her reflection in the cracked wall mirror. Her goggled-eyed gaze roams all over her dirt-colored top, as if she’s searching for . . . well, she doesn’t know what she’s looking for, honestly. An answer, perhaps? A question? Something out of the norm? Whatever it is, she doesn’t find it, so she gives herself a nod. Her shirt is a decent choice. Today feels like a brown day, if there ever was such a thing.
“Okay,” Shaw calls out, “now I’m definitely dead. Message the coroner. Tell him some poor old man passed away while waiting for a girl to choose an outfit.”
Brielle sighs, marches to the door, and wrenches the deadbolt loose. “You’re the one who woke me up,” she says, dragging the door open. “I’m perfectly entitled to make you wait.”
Shaw stands in the narrow hallway, looking even more haggard than usual. His hair juts up on one side of his head and lies ridiculously flat on the other. He hasn’t shaved in days. And his outfit looks like it was slapped together in the dark—a wrinkled green coat atop a coffee-stained pair of blue trousers. He’s even tried to knot himself a necktie. It looks more like a narrow, lopsided scarf. To top it all off, the man is holding one arm mysteriously—no, suspiciously—behind his back.
Brielle narrows her eyes to slits. “What’s going on? You look like . . .” She tilts her head and looks him up and down a little closer. It’s hard to tell what he looks like right now. Certainly not like his usual self. “. . . like a carnival spat you out, I suppose.”
Shaw smirks at his jacket and smooths a wrinkle from one of the lapels. “That’s the look I was going for,” he says. He glances back at her and winks. “Carnival spit.” Before she even has a chance to roll her eyes, he lifts his hidden arm, revealing a wrinkled paper bag. He gives it a dramatic shake. “Didn’t have anything nice to wrap with,” he grumbles, “so you’ll just have to tear through this.”
Brielle blinks dumbly at the bag for a moment. Then she understands. Her face droops and she turns her back to Shaw, as if she can somehow avoid what’s coming next by simply walking away. “Let’s not do this, okay?”
Shaw clears his throat and shakes the bag harder. “If you don’t open it,” he says, “I will. Paid good money for this. I’m not letting it go to waste.”
She’s tempted to say, Open it, then. See if I care. But that wouldn’t be fair at all. Shaw has been nothing but kind to her. And if he really did pay good money for whatever’s inside that bag, then she practically has to open it. She lived with him long enough to know just how little the city pays him. Long enough to see just how much of a struggle it’s been for him to make ends meet. So she groans her way to her lumpy sofa, flops down onto it, and grudgingly says, “Okay. I’ll open it. But that’s all. No cake. No wishes. And absolutely no singing.”
Shaw steps into her apartment and gently pulls the door shut behind him. Then he takes a moment to glance around with that detective stare of his. His eyes touch everything: the windows that she never bothers to wipe, the grimy floorboards that’ve moved so far past dusty that they practically feel carpeted, the furniture that’s so battered it’s a wonder any of it is still standing at all. And of course, her. Finally he reaches for the lantern on the wall and twists it on. A dull yellow glow floods the room. “There,” he says, blinking in the light, “that’s . . . slightly better.”
Brielle clamps her jaw and braces for another one of his grating lectures on cleanliness. Instead he merely says, “I’ve never met anyone who hates celebrating their birthday as much as you.”
Birthday. The word puts a sour taste in her mouth and an even worse feeling in her gut. Birthdays are for people who like remembering how far they’ve come. For those who don’t want to forget. “It’s just a dumb tradition,” she says, waving her clockwork hand in the air. Dust particles swirl around her brass knuckles and stick to the leather straps around her wrist. “Why would anyone be happy about getting older? It just means you’re one year closer to dying.”
And one year farther away from Mom.
Shaw barks out a laugh and turns to look at the window. His profile flickers from the lights down in the harbor. “You’re sixteen, Gabrielle,” he says teasingly. “Not ninety.” He rests his forehead against the glass and studies the view like he’s examining a crime scene. “Take a break. Lighten up. Enjoy the scenery.”
Brielle lets her glove plop down on the cushion beside her. More dust plumes into the air. She’s been living here for years now, her sixth-floor apartment towering over the dark waters of the bay, yet she can’t remember the last time she glanced out the window like that. Just to . . . look. Perhaps this is proof that something truly is wrong with her.
Maybe staring blankly through dingy panes of glass is the kind of thing that only normal people do.
“Have you ever known me to lighten up?” she asks.
Shaw turns away from the window and shakes his head. “No,” he admits. “Can’t say that I have.”
She cracks a challenging smile. “So why should I start now?”
The detective raises his arms defensively, as if she’s got him at gunpoint. “I can list over a dozen reasons,” he says, “but then you’ll just kick me out.”
Her grin widens. “You know me best.”
About the Author
Kyle Richardson lives in the suburban wilds of Canada with his adorable wife, their rambunctious son, and their adventurous daughter. He writes about shapeshifters, superheroes, and the occasional clockwork beast, moonlights as an editor at Meerkat Press, and has a terrible habit of saying the wrong thing at the most inopportune moments. His short fiction has appeared in places such as Love Hurts: A Speculative Fiction Anthology and Daily Science Fiction.
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