Novella Review: Tales of the Captain Duke by Rebecca Diem
Genre: Steampunk, pirates
Publisher: Woolf Like Me Publishing (2014, 2015)
Author Info: www.rebeccadiem.com
I had the good fortune of meeting Rebecca Diem by chance at Fan Expo Canada this past summer, and I’m so glad I did! I picked up a copy of her book and quickly fell in love with the characters and the story, prompting me to grab the next in the series. I’m now impatiently clamouring for the third book. Why do I love them so much? Well, the this is where I compare Tales of the Captain Duke to the Fast and Furious movie series. No wait! Hear me out! No, Captain Duke does not feature car chases, NOS, ridiculous fist fights, and lots of explosions (well, there are a few explosions), but it does feature a very amazing family. The FF movies are pretty silly, but I love them because, far more than fast cars, the story has always been about the bonds of family that go far deeper than blood. That is the kind of bond the Captain’s crew share in these stories and what a young woman named Clara finds most endearing when faced with the choice of joining the crew of airship pilots.
In the first book, our titular stowaway debutante winds up saving the crew (and herself) from an unfortunate event. Despite the secrets she is determined to cling to, Captain Duke tentatively accepts her as a member of his crew. She is immediately drawn to the various pilots, whom Diem brings to life most endearingly, and to the Captain Duke himself, who also keeps his secrets–including the very name of his airship–close. Diem carefully parcels out the pieces of their mysteries through chapters that alternate between their points of view, and expertly teases the growing spark between the two enigmatic characters. Whatever Clara is running from is bound to catch up with her, as we find out in the second book in the series where the loyalty of the crew is severely tested.
I am very new to, but utterly intrigued by steampunk. This series is a great place for anyone to start as Diem charmingly reinvents piratical history with airships, and challenges gender roles and diversity. This is a lighthearted adventure that isn’t afraid to get serious from time to time. A welcome change from my usual reads.