Heart of Perdition by Selah March
Author: Selah March
Format: e-Book Galley ARC
Source: Carina Press via NetGalley
Release Date: March 5, 2012
Dates Read: February 20-21, 2012
As the nineteenth century draws to a close, James Weston, Earl of Falmouth, is dying along with it. Despite living in an age of airships and automatons, even London’s finest physicians cannot cure the young man’s ailing heart. His last hope lies in retrieving a powerful artifact from the remote island home of an eccentric scientist’s daughter.
Elspeth Shaw prefers her solitary life to the tragic results that come from mixing in society. Elspeth is cursed: every mortal being who forms an attachment to her dies a horrible death. Yet when the doomed Lord Falmouth arrives in search of the very artifact that blights her, she hasn’t the will to refuse. But the price for cheating death may be more than any human can pay…
This book was obtained freely from the publisher, Carina Press, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Heart of Perdition is an interesting novella blending fantasy and Gothic horror themes in a steampunk world. Aurelius Shaw is on his deathbed, a fact which greatly distresses James Weston. After all, this eccentric scientist’s experimental treatment was the singular hope for James to be cured of his heart infirmity. Desperate for resolution, Weston is willing to take his last risks to retrieve a powerful artifact from the residence of Shaw’s daughter on the remote island of St. Kilda. However, Shaw’s last words are a chilling warning to avoid his daughter, or she will be the death of James. He isn’t being facetious. Elspeth Shaw’s legacy is a great curse, brought on by her father’s greed in obtaining a powerful artifact he was never supposed to possess. Any and every mortal being that comes into contact with her and feels affection for her dies a terrible death. Thus she has retreated to a solitary life on a lonely island, with only a hateful housekeeper for company. Will James Weston gets more than he bargains for when he retrieves the artifact?
Overall, I found the story enjoyable. Heart of Perdition has elements of steampunk, fantasy, mystery, and Gothic horror. Selah March is successful in creating a world that intrigues the reader and leaves you wondering what will happen next. My biggest problem with the book is just how short it is. I understand it is meant to be a novella, but I felt like the story ended just as the stage had been set. The ending was abrupt and gave no sense of resolution. Despite the abrupt conclusion, however, I enjoyed the end for what it was, very much like a cliffhanger between episodes of a well-planned television show. I do hope that Heart of Perdition will be continued as the end suggests, because I very much want to know what happens next.