Rating: 3.25 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel


Draco exists in a world unlike our own, a world where the Aztec empire never fell to the Spanish, and now Emperor Heumac rules the western continent with navies and armies as powerful as Queen Victoria’s own. It’s a world of airships and sky pirates, a world where a man such as Draco — a man who enjoys the company of his own sex — can take lovers without shame. Of course, that doesn’t mean everything is easy. Draco seems to have gained an enemy in one Sir Rupert, whose daughter has set her cap on Draco, only to discover Draco has no interest in returning her affections.

Sir Rupert promises vengeance, threatening Draco with mysterious consequences that tie into the new skyship being built by both the Aztec and English empires, a ship that won’t just sail above the clouds … but above the planet itself. At Draco’s side is Yolotli, a lovely young man gifted to Draco by the emperor, a young man who makes Draco feel things he never thought to feel.

Yolotli has his own secrets and reasons for wanting to come on this voyage. There are already rumors of sabotage, and assassins lurk around every corner. Yolotli has no desire to lose Draco before he tells the Englishman how he feels about him. After all, he’s loved Draco for so long, having seen him at several balls. On the ship, though, bound to him by an ancient bond, he’ll finally be able to talk to Draco. And perhaps do even more.

On paper, this book should have been everything I wanted. It has intricate world building, complex plotting, and a diverse cast of characters — with a crew made of Aztec, Welsh, English, Norse, and more — but somehow, it never quite came together for me. For one, the book read very monotone, with everyone talking the same, and the exposition and descriptions all in the same voice. Characters seem to act and react based on what the plot requires, rather than feeling like they’re people in a living world, and without dialogue tags, there are many areas I couldn’t tell you who was talking.

While the plot moves along solidly, there are just strange moments that don’t quite make sense. Like a trial that ends up with two Aztec princes saying, in essence, I hit that, and ending with a marriage proposal. At a trial where one character faces high crimes and in which his punishment could well be his life. And that’s another issue with the tone of the book. No one felt like they took anything seriously. Nothing mattered, nothing had weight, and the only reactions were tepid acknowledgements before characters moved on to the next scene. Nothing lingered, nothing affected how characters felt, and it left me, well, equally unaffected. Death felt like it mattered as much as a glass of wine.

The pacing was also off in places. A mention of how Draco was accosted by Sir Rupert’s daughter was a sentence; Yolotli sitting down to take a test took a page. Conversations about misunderstandings went on forever, but discussions about a broken ship or a possible murderer on board were brushed away as not being important. It was just so unbalanced. I wanted to like this book; the idea of steampunk ships in space, of an ancient and powerful Aztec empire … they were there — and well presented — but the characters were so flat that everything melded into one single note.

I have enjoyed this author’s work before, but that was in a novella, not a novel. It feels to me that with so much more time to be able to spin a more intricate plot, some of the character work that I think is their strongest gift fell to the side. That’s not to say this book is bad, it just didn’t do what I wanted it to do. However, if you give this book a try, I do hope you enjoy it. Just because this book didn’t fully work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you!