For this review, author Jaq D. Hakins reached out to me about her novel The Wake of the Dragon: A Steampunk Adventure. When I was younger I watched a few different animes that were in the steampunk genre, but I'd never read a novel.
The story opens on a pirate ship, though the high seas are miles away. The ship is in fact a steam powered air ship piloted by Captain Bonny and manned by one of the best, and most unorthodox, crew around. Each one so full of opium and rum they should not be able to walk, let alone swing from the rigging ropes thousands of feet above the ground.
Early on in the story its established that Captain Bonny is a unique Captain. Hawkins blended, in my opinion, the most likeable qualities in the classic pirate captains in pop culture, though I don't feel as though any certain one was a direct inspiration; He retains the stoic nature of Captain Jack's father Captain Teague, the relatable nature of Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow and the ruthlessness of Black Beard, the real not the one from Pirates of the Caribbean.
As the story progresses you're introduced to more characters that play a vital role in this story such as James Dudley, the well meaning nervous clerk, Zachary Wyatt, Dudley's scroogeish boss that treats him as a variable slave, Anne Bardwell, the seductive stowaway that longs for adventure in the open skies. Each of these characters, and more, plays an important part of the overall story involving Wyatt's stolen rum, that in itself gets stolen by a certain group of air pirates.
The story moves along seamlessly, giving you a real insight to the characters and their pasts; all the while taking you all over England and even across the channel into France. It truly is a page turner from the get go, and the ending is possibly one of the most shocking and unexpected I've ever read.
Besides the shear uniqueness behind the world Hawkins has created for The Wake of the Dragon, the group of characters and sense of adventure are all very creative and well done. The list of pros I could name for this story is immense, but I've narrowed it down to:
- As I just said, the world Hawkins created is very unique, even for a steam punk story. Everything about it feels new and wonderful.
- The characters all have a depth to them that keeps you rooting for all of them in one way or another, even the ones that you really hope don't succeed in their goal.
- The story itself, while being about pirates doing what they do best, is fresh and more importantly it constantly moves forward and keeps you interested.
- For the first half of the story Hawkins keeps the transitions smooth between the characters. Once the characters all get together it gets a little hectic and there are a few instances where it becomes a little difficult to follow which character is speaking. This is only on a few occasions, most of the time there is a clear break between who is being followed.
In the end I give The Wake of the Dragon by Jaq D. Hawkins a solid 8/10 based on:
7/10 for readability - The story flows well throughout. Its written in a style that is unique to Hawkins. The only downfall to the story flow is the few instances where following characters becomes a bit difficult towards the end.
8/10 for story - The story itself may be one of piracy and reclaiming what was lost on the surface, but its written in such a way that it becomes so much more. The way the characters take their individual journeys and come together, just to part ways and become individuals again is unique and well done.
9/10 for characters - Each character in this story has his/her own unique voice. This is a feat in itself as the story has so many characters, and each one is very distinct from the others. Even the classic steam punk mechanoids seem to take on a life of their own.
9/10 for overall creativity - I wasn't sure how else to label this x-factor when I considered what made this story unique. I listed it as overall creativity because I feel just bringing a steam punk novel to life doesn't describe what this story is. It meshes the most wonderful pieces of pirate lore, that adventure and freedom we've all been in love with sometime in our life, with a steam punk world. It combines wonderful story telling with larger than life characters, it really hits the mark in so many ways that are unique to itself.
A big thank you to Jaq D. Hawkins for contacting me about The Wake of the Dragon, I truly enjoyed the opium induced pirate epic. I can also guarantee that if you give this story a chance you will have found an author that you're going to want to keep up with, like I did.
If you'd like to pick up The wake of the Dragon for yourself, simply click here.