Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker

All Kali McAlister wants is to leave Moose Hollow far, far behind–and with her dogless sled, the $1,000 prize for the sled race is just her ticket.  But with pirates, gangsters, and thugs in the Yukon after her late father’s alchemical secrets, she’ll be lucky to make it to the finish line alive.  And then there’s that striking man by the mysterious name of Cedar–why is he helping her?

This was a fun steampunk adventure story.  It was fast-paced, well-written, and quite enjoyable; Buroker knows how to hook a reader with interesting characters and conflicts.  I’m looking forward to reading more books set in this universe.

That said, I did have a few issues with this book.  At some parts, the dialog came across as wooden because the characters’ words and reactions didn’t match the intensity of the scene.  For example, Kali and Cedar got caught up in a couple of friendly discussions during gunfights, one about her automatic reloading rifle (which was somewhat excusable) and one about the status of their relationship (which felt a little contrived).  Also, the climax of the story revolves around a late third act info dump, which is a pet peeve of mine.  It didn’t bring the story to a screeching halt, but it did feel a little clumsy.

None of those kept me from enjoying the story, but they were definitely things I noticed.  My biggest issue was probably a lack of real dept or thoughtfulness; what I like to call a “stuff happens, the end” kind of story.  The main character had good internal motivations, but no real internal conflict.  For example, she had this whole history with a previous lover betraying her trust, but she didn’t really struggle much with learning to trust again; all that old baggage was just a part of her background.

Overall, though, this was a fun action-adventure romp.  The steampunk setting was great, one that I’d like to come back and revisit.  And in spite of my critiques, I didn’t feel cheated by this story at all; it really was an enjoyable read.  For $.99, what do you have to lose?

You can find Flash Gold at the author’s site here, or at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble (for some reason, the Amazon link appears to be broken).

Author: Joe Vasicek

Joe Vasicek is the author of more than twenty science fiction books, including the Star Wanderers and Sons of the Starfarers series. As a young man, he studied Arabic and traveled across the Middle East and the Caucasus. He currently lives in Utah.

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