What a fantastic story and start to a new series by author C. S. Poe. The Engineer, a fabulous mix of Wild West, magic, amidst a steampunk universe where a touch starved Special Federal Magic Agent ends up hunting a magical terrorist known as Tinkerer.
Only he’s not the only one. There’s another man after the Tinkerer too. But that person is decidedly on the other side of the law. The other one is Gunner the Deadly, the top of the Bureau’s Most Wanted List.
Poe creates a bedlam of dust, panic, and steampunk magic as Special Agent Gillian Hamilton, outlaw Gunner , and madman engineer, the Tinkerer , all descend on the small silver mining town of Shallow Grave , Arizona in 1881.
Hamilton is especially compelling as a magic caster forced to work for the government by federal laws and personal guilt. But regulations and society morals have forced him into such severe self isolation that he’s essentially dying inside. He hides his sexuality because homosexuality isn’t allowed, and the strength of his magic makes touch of another unsafe.
Until Gunner touches him, unleashing tightly imprisoned feelings and making him feel alive again.
They are both such fascinating characters. Poe has left just enough gaps in their histories that future stories can use that knowledge to enrich their developing relationship.
Here it’s a tenuous emotional connection that’s building between them, and a bargain struck over the need to bring down a unexpectedly more powerful villain.
Poe has created some marvelous steampunk magical inventions along with the usual airships and expected western Gatling guns of that era.
It’s poured together in a fabulous 72 pages that has the feel of a much bigger story. One that leaves us on a hopeful note going forward into The Gangster (Magic & Steam #2).
Magic & Steam series:
🔹The Engineer #1
🔹The Gangster #2
🔹The Doctor #3
Btw, what outstanding covers each story has! They absolutely caught my eye!
Cover art: Reese Dante
1881—Special Agent Gillian Hamilton is a magic caster with the Federal Bureau of Magic and Steam. He’s sent to Shallow Grave, Arizona, to arrest a madman engineer known as Tinkerer, who’s responsible for blowing up half of Baltimore. Gillian has handled some of the worst criminals in the Bureau’s history, so this assignment shouldn’t be a problem. But even he’s taken aback by a run-in with the country’s most infamous outlaw, Gunner the Deadly.
Gunner is also stalking Shallow Grave in search of Tinkerer, who will stop at nothing to take control of the town’s silver mines. Neither Gillian nor Gunner are willing to let Tinkerer hurt more innocent people, so they agree to a very temporary partnership.
If facing illegal magic, Gatling gun contraptions, and a wild engineer in America’s frontier wasn’t enough trouble for a city boy, Gillian must also come to terms with the reality that he’s rather fond of his partner. But even if they live through this adventure, Gillian fears there’s no chance for love between a special agent and outlaw.
Based on the short story, “Gunner the Deadly.” Entirely revised, newly expanded, and Book One in the exciting new steampunk series, Magic & Steam.