Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.
As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.
Unique Steampunk Tale
I'm a huge Tiffany Trent fan. When I was a Cybils panelist for the Sci-Fi/fantasy category I was able to read one of her nominated HALLOWMERE books. I was hooked. I was bummed when the last book in that series wasn't published after her then publisher folded. Then I heard her book THE UNNATURALISTS was picked up by Simon and Schuster. I was very excited to be able to read another one of her stories.
Let's just say the wait was worth it! Once again Trent delivers! Unique and totally engaging we are swept away to the alternative world of New London where magic is forbidden and punished by death. Vespa Nyx works in her father's museum of Unnatural History. There she studies creatures of magic that are hidden for display. Then her life turns topsy turvy with a chance encounter and a revelation that puts her life in danger.
I totally loved this fascinating world that Trent has created. What's unique is how magic is handled in New London. Here it's outlawed. Being a witch is punishable by death. The Unnatural creatures such as fairies and others are used to run New London in gruesome ways.
We also see New London through the eyes of a Tinker, someone who is in tune with the Unnatural creatures that live in the wild places. I usually don't care for two different points of view in a novel but Trent nails this. I love seeing this spellbounding world through both of the protagonist's eyes while experiencing the terror of witnessing their world being destroyed.
Vespa is a strong protagonist who doesn't swoon around a hawt guy. No she demands to do her own part to help after she finds out terrible revelations that affect not only her but New London too. Syrus is also strong especially after he witnesses the horror afflicted on his Tinker clan. He's not willing to back down even if this means he puts his own life in danger.
There's twists and turns throughout this story. More than once I cried out, "No way, I can't believe you did that!"
Trent creates a unique world that takes steampunk to a whole new level. She combines Sci-fi with fantasy and develops a rich alternative world readers will want to visit. I know I did!
2. Unique twist on steampunk tale
3. Engaging story
4. Love the twist on what happens to the magical creatures
5. Twists and turns
6. Love Tiffany Trent's writing!
Not as good as my expectations
The Unnaturalists wasn't as good as I expected it to be. When I first read the blurb, I was like "Oh, endangered magical creatures captured in museums and a guy whose family is captured? Bring it on!" But then I was reading it and it was like.... meh.
Let's start with the names. I'm sorry, did you say Vespa? Isn't that a kind of Italian motorbike thingy? And isn't Nyx the goddess of night? So you mean to say that we've got a protagonist whose first name is a motorbike and whose second name is a goddess?? I'm sorry, but these kinds of names are just one of my pet peeves.
While I know that lots of people will feel differently, but I actually didn't have all that much of a problem with the first and third person switching. I mean, at least this avoided us having two voices that sounded basically the same.
I didn't like the character's personalities much either. Aside from her name, Vespa just seemed stuck up, a bit mean and not very smart either. I didn't have a big problem with Syrus, except for the fact that he wasn't very easy to connect to and sometimes he was not-so-bright either.
Now onto the plot.
I liked the plot, much more than the characters. It was fast enough to keep me interested, yet not so fast I didn't get what was happening. It also had a few twists, so it was interesting enough that I overcame my general annoyance with the characters.
The setting didn't have enough explanation. So, we knew that it was set in "New London", which became New London after the original London went through a magic portal and got transported to a world where there are things like Sphinxes and stuff like that. I have a few problems/questions with this setting. Question number one: how did this magic portal come into existence? Question number two: How the heck do you get all of London through a magic portal? Question number three: Is New London the only civilisation on the whole world? If it is, why are they all crowded into a tiny city when they have the whole planet?
My only hope is that my questions will be answered in the books to come.
Despite all my problems with Unnaturalists, the world was quite a well constructed one, and I would recommend it if you tend not to be bothered by the problems I have with this book.
The Unnaturalists is a different type of steampunk to your usual type. It is set in a different world, where the original London was magically transported to a new world, full of magical creatures like Sphinxes and Manticores. This book has a combination of magic and science, which allows it to extend it's marketing, as the characters try to classify magic through science. This is a combination that I have never really seen before, especially with these types of creatures.
The main characters in The Unnaturalists are Vespa and Syrus, with the book being told in Vespa's POV, but with alternating chapters to show what us what Syrus was doing in 3rd person. I think that this was confusing, as it was hard to tell the different between them, especially when they were doing things together. I reckon that it should of both been in 1st person or 3rd person, not two different POV.
It was also strange as Syrus was younger than Vespa, and his part of the story was told in 3rd person, basically trying to hint that Syrus isn't that important, but he is just as important. It is also very hard to sympathize with Syrus, as I just wasn't able to connect with him. Even though many tragedies befell him, I just couldn't feel the grief I was meant to. And the tragedies also gave the impression that Vespa is a stuck up snob, and not a very likeable person, she is also that that bright.
The Unnaturalists is a good steampunk to read, and has a fantastic world built inside it's pages. It is worth reading if you enjoy these types of books.