Lingua Magika is Kat’s latest series, a fast-paced Western steampunk fantasy with a dash of romance and adventure! A Feast of Phantoms is Book #1, with at least two more to follow.
It was supposed to be simple.
Help Marshal Sebastian Hardin escort his prisoner one stop on the railway to Charter Oak.
Just one stop.
But when that prisoner is a savant who talks to ghosts, even the simplest plans have a way of falling apart.
Sheriff’s Deputy Ruth Cortez always does the right thing. Lucky Boy is a company town, dependent on the rich and powerful Carnarvon family. Besides which, the charismatic Sebastian Hardin isn’t an easy man to say no to. When his transport derails in the middle of the prairie, Ruth begins a relentless manhunt that leads straight into the dark heart of the Carnarvon empire.
Lee Merriweather favors sharp suits and fast trains – especially when he’s stealing them. At the ripe old age of 18, he’s managed to become the most wanted criminal in three territories. Lee can’t resist playing cat and mouse with a small-town deputy, but what starts as a game becomes deadly serious.
Sebastian Hardin is the Carnarvons’ right hand, loyal to the death and willing to keep any secret to protect the family. They want Lee alive, but with the young savant’s disturbing abilities it won’t be an easy proposition. Whoever catches Lee gets the keys to the kingdom and the Carnarvons aren’t the only ones hunting him down. Sebastian has enough problems without falling for Deputy Cortez – but you can’t always choose who you love.
They terrorized the settlers until Calindra Carnarvon learned to speak their language. Her empire relies on controlling their telekinetic powers, but Lee Merriweather could destroy it all. And not even Lee suspects the shocking truth of the phantoms’ real nature.
Representation: (click to show)
Hispanic/Romani MC, wheelchair-using secondary character, Black secondary character, Hispanic minor character (MC’s father) with possible OCD, Romani minor character (MC’s mother) with migraines, diverse minor characters
Content warnings: (click to show)
minor character death, racial terms (g*psy, N*gro), ableist language (cr*zy), non-graphic violence, blood
I received an advance review copy of the book for the blog tour; all opinions are my own and honest.
This is a solid start to a new series that I will be following eagerly. I absolutely adore the premise, which is unlike anything I can remember reading — though it’s worth noting that the synopsis feels like it’s for the series rather than this specific book, as several of its parts are introduced only briefly and/or towards the end.
But before we really get into it, let me just bask in the worldbuilding for a hot minute. The combination of western and steampunk and fantasy, with vivid settings and complex machinery and spooky phantoms — while it could seem like a lot to balance, Ross really makes it work. The reverence for language / communication and linguists — as a bilingual linguistics major, I absolutely adored it. The questions that remain to be answered in following books — do I ever look forward to investigating them.
Plot-wise the book is a little lighter; I imagine it gets more intense as the series goes on, but this installment felt quite expository. Still, there’s a decent amount of action, balanced by some humorous scenes; although I wouldn’t consider it particularly fast-paced, it has great flow that made it hard to put the book down! And the romance doesn’t really come into play until the later chapters, which I appreciated since it gave me the chance to really explore the world and get to know the characters.
It’s no small feat to make a staunchly-by-the-rules female lead both likable and consistent, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I immediately liked Ruth. Young woman in a big world with something to prove? I can relate. (Though I swear like a sailor whereas Ruth pointedly omits curse words throughout the narrative.)
Lee Merriweather: there’s a reason the prodigal prodigy is a popular trope, and he exemplifies it. Mischievous, mysterious, dangerous … even dreamy, perhaps? I like him a lot, in case you couldn’t tell.
On the other hand, Sebastian Hardin kind of faded in and out of narrative focus, at least as far as I’m concerned. But he made a pretty strong showing as this first book closed, and good things come in threes, so I’m optimistic that he’ll round out the trio nicely as the series progresses.
Even if I’m not totally sold on him as a love interest.
(My favorite character isn’t even mentioned in the synopsis, so I’ll err on the side of avoiding spoilers — come chat with me once you’ve read the book! 😉)
All in all, there is so much to enjoy in A Feast of Phantoms, and I can’t wait to see how the series unfolds.
Conversion: 10.7 / 15 = 4 stars
Prose: 5 / 10
Characters & Relationships: 8 / 10
Emotional Impact: 7 / 10
Development/Flow: 7 / 10
Setting: 9 / 10
Diversity & Social Themes: 3 / 5
Intellectual Engagement: N/A
Originality/Trope Execution: 4 / 5
Rereadability: 3 / 5
Memorability: 4 / 5
About the Author
Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She’s the author of the Fourth Element and Fourth Talisman fantasy series, the Gaslamp Gothic paranormal mysteries, and the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Check out Kat’s Pinterest page for the people, places and things that inspire her books.
[Icons Credit: Side_Project]
This post is part of the blog tour organized by Xpresso Book Tours.