Tag Archives For: alternative history

17 Mar, 2017

Rebel Magisters

/ posted in: Reading Rebel Magisters Rebel Magisters by Shanna Swendson
on July 12th 2016
Pages: 238
Series: Rebel Mechanics #2
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Fiction
Published by NLA Digital
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Setting: New York

Tea, Love ... and Revolution!
The Rebel Mechanics aren’t the only group plotting revolution against the magical British Empire. There are rebel magisters, as well, and Verity Newton and her magister employer, Lord Henry, know that the only way for the revolution to succeed is if both groups work together. A diplomatic mission seems like the perfect opportunity for them to meet with rebels in other colonies and gather support—right under the governor’s nose.


The premise of this series is that the Americans lost the Revolution because upper class British people have magic.  Now it is the 1880s and steampunk technology has advanced enough to level the battlefield.

Verity is a governess for a British family in New York.  She was recruited to spy for the rebels.  It turns out that her employer wants a revolution also.  He is working towards it covertly with his British peers.  Now it is time to bring both camps together.

I love the multiple levels of espionage in this book.  Trying to get various rebel groups to work together without one or the other trying to get all the credit was a bit like herding cats.  Some of the children Verity watches are maturing from spoiled brats to budding activists too.

There is a slow romance through this series and a potential new romance in this book.  This ends in upheaval so I hope the next book in the series comes out soon.


About Shanna Swendson

Shanna Swendson is the author of the Enchanted, Inc. series, the Fairy Tale series, and Rebel Mechanics.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Books Set in North America
09 Mar, 2016

Atomik Aztex

/ posted in: Reading Atomik Aztex Atomik Aztex by Sesshu Foster
on July 1st 2005
Pages: 203
Genres: Fiction, General
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in California

In the alternate universe of Atomik Aztex, the Aztecs rule, having conquered the European invaders long ago. Aztek warriors with totemic powers are busy colonizing Europe, and human sacrifice is basic to economic growth.
Zenzontli, Keeper of the House of Darkness, is plagued by nightmares of a parallel reality where American consumerism reigns supreme. Ghosts of banished Aztek warriors emerge to haunt contemporary Los Angeles, and Zenzontli’s visions of Hell become real as he’s trapped in a job in an East L.A. meatpacking plant.


People who write reviews of this book fall into one of two categories.

  1. This is the most amazing book ever and this writer is BRILLIANT!!!
  2. What The F$#@ did I just read?????


I’m firmly in the second category.  I’ve never wanted Cliffs Notes for a book before this one.  The note at the beginning of the book includes:

“Persons attempting to find a plot in this book should read Huck Finn.”

Basically, when the Spanish crossed the ocean ready to take over Mexico, the Aztecs were ready.  They killed the invaders and then went and took over Europe.  Now they wage war to get captives to sacrifice to drive their economy.  The Aztecs also believe in a complex version of time and reality and multiple dimensions.

“The Wurlitzer of the Universe is packed with 78 rpm realities side by side. Get ready to drop your dime.”

Zenzontli, Keeper of the House of Darkness of the Aztex, a warrior on his way to help liberate Saint Petersburg during World War II, is existing in another reality as a worker in a Los Angeles slaughterhouse with a sadistic boss.  This is a strange version of reality where the Aztec were conquered by the Spanish, like that could ever happen.  This Zenzon spends his nights slaughtering pigs and is being recruited to help unionize his company.

Because of the Aztec idea of everything that ever happened is happening at the same time you get stream of consciousness discussions that reference the Beatles during World War II, for example.  There are times when some of the asides can be funny:

“the exact number of those rainforest leaves it turned out was the ever-changing combination to the doorway to several alternate realities but you know it’s so hard to guess I did get it right one time {23,901,7782,880,633 x K to the 435th power; believe me you don’t even want to know how I got it}”

That’s an exact quote – lack of punctuation and all – which is another reason why this book can be hard to read.  Besides proudly making no sense, it has it’s own spelling and punctuation.  Paragraphs can go on for pages.

I put this book aside for a while but determined to finish it for Weirdathon.  I’m arguing for this book today on Outlandish Lit as part of the Weirdathon debates.

I’ll leave you with the ending of the book.  Don’t worry about it being a spoiler.  It doesn’t have anything to do with anything else.

“I mean, sometimes I sense a monkey spirit. I could be mistaken. That’s the trouble with one’s inner life. Monkeys could be playing around with it. They’ll fuck around with your stuff if you let them. You’ll be looking for something in your inner life, some truth about your situation, in this world or some other level of existence somehow, then you’ll have to take care of some other Business, and when you turn around, when you go back and check your inner life again, just watch, the monkeys will have fucked off with something. Some part of your interior life will be fucking lost cuz of the monkeys. I don’t know what you can do about that.”

From now on whenever I go a little crazy, I’m placing the blame firmly on the monkeys.  Maybe this book was useful after all.


05 Aug, 2015

Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendon

/ posted in: Reading Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendon Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson
on July 14th 2015
Pages: 320
Series: Rebel Mechanics #1
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Steampunk
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Also in this series: Rebel Magisters

It's 1888, and seventeen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family--but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister--but it seems like the children's young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family's life. She soon realizes she's uniquely positioned to advance the cause--but to do so, she'll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.


In this version of 1888 New York, the Americans lost the revolution because they couldn’t overcome the British use of magic.  Now the seeds of revolution are growing again.  The Americans are relying on their ability to make steam powered and electric machines to fight the British.

Verity is just looking for a job as a governess when she meets up with a group of mechanics testing their latest invention – a bus that runs without horses or magic.  Members of the group befriend her and introduce her to the revolutionary cause.  They see her as an asset because she got the job as a governess to a powerful British family.  They want her to spy for them.

I enjoyed this author’s Enchanted, Inc. series and couldn’t wait to read this book.  I love the premise that the revolution failed because the British have magic.

I like the way that the romance was handled in this book.  At first it seems like it is going to play a major part in the story but then it ends up focusing on Verity making decisions for herself not based on what the men in her life want from her.  There is flirtation and it may play out more in future books in the series but she isn’t focused just on finding a man to marry.  It is hard to pull that combination off but the author did a great job of it.

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next in the story.


About Shanna Swendson

Shanna Swendson is the author of the Enchanted, Inc. series, the Fairy Tale series, and Rebel Mechanics.