They say that the moor has eyes.
It is 1890, and the windswept moors hold dark secrets. Chloe Sullivan is an amateur inventor whose holiday takes a dark turn when her friend and colleague, one of the few female mechanical experts in the British Empire, is murdered.
A black mechanical hound roams the moors, but could it have killed a woman? And what secrets are concealed within the dark family manor?
Accompanied by her naturalist husband and clockwork cat, Chloe is determined to see her friend’s killer found.
But some secrets have a terrible cost.
A common pit-trap of steampunk literature is to go too grand too quick. What begins as a focused self-contained story suddenly explodes into epic battles and world changing plots. Thankfully this is not the case with Heather Blackwood’s “Hounds of Autumn”, a smart and engrossing contribution to the genre that is both engaging and at times moving.
The narrative plays out as a good old murder mystery in a country house, but with a steampunk spin on the events. The clockwork and steam ingredients are used delicately, sprinkled here and there to improve the flavour of the piece, rather than being the main dish in itself. The focus here is very much on the characters and the sinister plot that unravels with increasing momentum.
The only minor complaint I might have is that the story comes together a little too quickly and neatly in the final chapters, but this is a staple of murder mysterious and seems to be more of a flaw in the genre than the writing itself.
I look forward to more steampunk from Heather Blackwood in the future. The world she creates is a pleasing and intriguing one that never loses sight of what it set out to achieve.
Hounds of Autumn is available on kindle for £1.95.