Book Review: Tainted


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What is it?

Tainted is a steampunk novel written from a biblical worldview. It’s a traditional take on this very popular genre, set in Victorian England where steam-powered technology and magic are the norm.

Steampunk is more than just science fiction in the 1800s. It’s alternate history. Whether it’s set in Victorian England or the American Wild West, you’re likely to see airships, corsets, goggles, alchemy, and lots and lots of tea and crumpets.

Who wrote it?

Morgan Busse. This lady is awesome. Just saying. I’m privileged to call her a friend. She’s been a huge encouragement and a source of information for me personally as I’ve walked down my own path as a professional writer. I loved her fantasy series, The Follower of the Word, so when I got the chance to read Tainted, I took it.


What’s it about?

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The main character is Kat Bloodmayne, a brilliant student with a distant father, who is seeking to become a scientist for a very specific reason. Kat has powers—majorly destructive powers. And she wants to find out what’s wrong with her and how to cure herself before anyone else finds out about them, because the moment the world knows what she is, they’ll want to experiment on her.

But when Kat loses control, she is forced to go into hiding. Her only hope is a doctor who might be able to help her, and she turns to Stephen Gray, the nephew of the housekeeper who raised her. But Stephen’s got his own issues. Betrayed by a cheating fiancee, Stephen doesn’t trust women. And when he finds out that the person desperately pursuing Kat is her own father, he has to choose which side to take.

What did I like?

One of the things I love most about Morgan’s writing is the deeper message and meaning to every story she writes. She makes use of symbols and themes but not in a way that feels overt or conspicuous.

On the surface, Tainted is a fantastic action-filled romp through an alternate history London. But that’s not all there is to it. Tainted asks deep questions. What happens when your soul dies? Does an artificially created being even have a soul? Where should we draw the line with science?

Morgan has an amazing gift for setting detail. Usually a lot of description bores me to tears, and I skip over it, but Morgan has worked it into the storyline so beautifully that it flows just as easily as dialog.

I love her characters too. Each one is unique and individual, flawed and broken, yet you still want to cheer for them because you see so much of yourself in them.

What did I not like?

Tainted starts out a bit slow. There’s a lot of groundwork to set, and because it’s a steampunk novel, a lot of detail needs to go into the introduction as far as setting. But the instant you hit chapter six—BOOM. You won’t even know what hit you, and you’ll be turning pages so fast you can’t stop.

You’ll be turning pages so fast you can’t stop!

And then… You hit the end. And you’ll just sit there with your jaw hanging open because you can’t believe it’s already over. So you’ll go back and start reading it again!

Should you read it?

Yes. 100 times yes.

If you want to know more about the steampunk genre, this is a great book to start with. The steampunkishness isn’t overwhelming. It’s not a young adult book, but there’s nothing objectionable in it. The beautiful setting detail sets the steampunk feel without bogging down the story and transports you to another world where you get to experience another time and place.

Tainted will be my go-to book to introduce newbies to the beauty, excitement, and adventure of the steampunk genre.

In the past, whenever I was trying to explain steampunk to someone who didn’t know about it, I would recommend Soulless by Gail Carriger or Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, and both of those are phenomenal books. But neither of them have the breathtaking beauty of a story about hope through Christ woven between the lines. From now on, Tainted will be my go-to book to introduce newbies to the beauty, excitement, and adventure of the steampunk genre.

Look, I don’t have a lot of time to read, so I pick the books I read very carefully, either because I’m going to learn something from them or be entertained. Tainted did both for me.

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