Today is a great day. "Why?" you ask. Because I get to present to you one of the best books I've read this year: The Electrical Menagerie, by Mollie E. Reeder. This book is one wild ride from beginning to end, and absolutely impossible to put down! To celebrate its release (which is today!) I've invited over the two main characters and their author for an interview. (But shhh, don't tell Carthage and Huxley about Mollie—they have no idea they're in a book. *wink wink*) After that, you can find my review of The Electrical Menagerie. Trust me, you don't want to miss out on this one!
The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt.
Sylvester Carthage, illusionist and engineer, has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively — but none of the people skills. Fast-talking Arbrook Huxley, meanwhile, has all the savvy the Menagerie needs to succeed commercially — but none of the scruples.
To save their show, Carthage & Huxley risk everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen. In this stardust-and-spark-powered empire of floating islands and flying trains, The Electrical Menagerie's bid at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroat world of critics, high society, and rival magicians — but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there’s more at stake in this contest than the prize.
Behind the glittery haze of flash paper and mirrors, every competitor has something to hide… and it’s the lies Carthage & Huxley tell each other that may cost them everything.
1.) Hello, Carthage and Huxley, and welcome! We're excited to have the producers of The Electrical Menagerie here today. Would you mind introducing yourselves?
Huxley: I’m A.Q. Huxley, producer and stage manager. My colleague, Mr. Sylvester Carthage.
Carthage: I’m the illusionist and the engineer — I built everything you see in the show.
Huxley: My wheelhouse is whatever you don’t see in the show. Location permits. Insurance. Credit rating. You know. The glamorous stuff. No autographs, please.
2.) What's it like, producing The Electrical Menagerie?
Carthage: Invigorating… exhausting.
Huxley: An adventure.
Carthage: Aye, the kind of adventure I dreamed about when I was a boy. Traveling the skies aboard a train. New faces and new places every day. Seeing the world.
Huxley: I’ll admit that living aboard the train has taken some adjustment. I grew up on acreage. It feels strange opening my window to nothing but stars. There are days when I miss good old terra firma. But I wouldn’t trade this life.
3.) Carthage, how do you feel about working with Huxley as a business partner? Does he make a good one?
Carthage: Mr. Huxley is… brazen. He does things differently than I would do them. But I confess his audacity is catching. He has a way of talking that I don’t have — I’m glad I don’t have to do all the talking.
4.) Well Huxley, how do you feel about working with Carthage as a business partner? (We have to make things fair and even here, even if there are rumors of contest sabotage going around.)
Huxley: He’s right, we have different ways of doing things. Mr. Carthage is an enigma; I usually have no idea what he’ll do next. Yesterday, he pulled an electrical rabbit out of his hat at the breakfast table. I almost choked on my toast. He laughed about it for half an hour.
5.) To wrap it up, how good do you think your chances are at winning the contest?
Carthage: I will stand onstage at the palace on Celestia. Some part of me has known that forever. With willpower, and ingenuity, The Electrical Menagerie will make it all the way to the end.
Huxley: And he calls me audacious? But he’s right. This contest won’t be easy — look at our competitors! But we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think we could win. And we aren’t concerned about that so-called “sabotage” you mentioned. I’m sure there’s no grand conspiracy lurking around the corner. This is a talent show. What’s the worst that could happen?
If April was an extremely productive reading month, May was average. I only finished three books, despite the fact that, (or maybe because of), I was also reading Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens the whole time. And so, I bring to you three reviews: one for the Phoenix Fiction Anthology (a collection of short stories by four awesome independent authors), one for Dissociate (the third book in a powerful ongoing series), and one for Where the Woods Grow Wild (Author Book Club's May read, and the first indie book I ever read, and re-read).
The independent author community is strong with this post. If you're looking for recommendations towards that end, look no further.
Phoenix Fiction Anthology
Kyle Robert Shultz, J.E. Purrazzi, E.B. Dawson, Beth Wangler
My rating: ★★★★
Kyle Robert Shultz
First up in the Phoenix Fiction Anthology is a retelling of the minotaur-and-labyrinth myth from Greek mythology. It’s carried off with Shultz’s characteristic sense of humor and imagination, but some of the mythological elements came off a little too strong for me. For example the gods and goddesses were explained to be very much human (if immortal), but their behavior didn’t stray far from their original mythological counterparts. Still, it was a light-hearted beginning to the anthology, and I enjoyed getting inside the head of a minotaur for the first time in my life. xD
Our next stop is a wildly creative take on futuristic Japan. Stealing Life is probably the most intense one out of the four, but I enjoyed it. There’s just something about Purrazzi’s writing that’s like watching a movie in your head, and this short story is no exception. Personally, I found it a little creepy, but in a good way. It centers around people doing things with science that they never should have, and asks serious questions about life and death.
I’d been looking forward to reading this one for a while, and was not disappointed! It’s a dystopian adventure told through multiple POVs, following one man’s journey to the realization that he’s been fighting the wrong war all along. Each of the POV characters were unique, and I found myself chuckling more than once while reading the descriptions of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. (After all, don’t we all know people like that?) And even though the story wrapped up nicely, I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing more of Caleb Weiss in the future. :P
The Lake of Living Water
Last up is an imaginative retelling of the Biblical account of the Fall, in a fictional universe. I loved the comfortable form of narration, as if the main character was telling you the story themselves. I think it takes real talent to make a perfect world interesting—and Wangler pulled it off. The synopsis says it’ll leave you feeling hopeful and refreshed, and it does. The Fall was not the end. One day Aia shall repair what was rent.
Welcome to Katelyn Buxton Books! I'm a Christian author and blogger, with a passion for writing stories that are not just enjoyable, but also lead people to Jesus. Feel free to look around, and enjoy your stay!
Progress for round four of edits on Warriors of Aralan #9: