By Christine Bell
First published: 28 May 2012 by Carina Press
Series: Stormy Gale #2
Read: 1–14 May 2012
E-ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley
Goodreads | Amazon | Carina Press
There I was, retired from time pirating, enjoying a full if somewhat conventional life as a wife and mother. Then a chance encounter with a stranger drew me back into a world I'd thought I'd left, quite literally, in the past. From his odd behavior and even odder answers to my questions, I knew Phineas Grubb was up to something. I should have trusted my instincts--before he pulled out a time-travel mechanism and dragged my brother, Bacon, back with him...
The infamous Witch Trials may have ended a few years earlier, but the people of Salem are still pretty touchy about outsiders that appear in town as if by magic. Thanks to Grubb, my brother's been accused of witchcraft and thrown in jail. Now it's up to me and my husband, Dev, to save Bacon's bacon before the hysteria starts up again, and the course of history is altered forever...
Regular readers of The Turn of the Page will undoubtably have heard me gush about the first book in this series, The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale. I loved the fresh, fun story of the time-travelling Stormy and have been eagerly awaiting the sequel for a year. I'm happy to say it didn't let me down.
A few years have passed since the events of the first book, and Stormy has settled down in Victorian London with her husband Dev and their little daughter and abandoned time-pirating for good. But when she discovers a mysterious man looking for a large amount of mercury, one thing leads to another and before long Stormy's brother Bacon is trapped in Salem in 1698 and Stormy and Dev have to devise a daring plan to save his bacon (yes, I've been wanting to use that pun for a long time).
The plot is action-packed and fast-moving, but what really drives the story are the characters; especially Stormy. I said in my review of Twisted Tale that I would love to have her as a friend, and that hasn't changed. Providing a 21th century perspective on 19th century London, her narration is filled with modern references (I'd miss Google too) and is often laugh-out-loud funny. She may be hot-headed and prone to acting before thinking, but she's also witty, clever and fiercely loyal to those she loves. Speaking of which, I was happy to see her dashing husband Dev, the Loony Duke of Leister, play an active part in the story, keeping Stormy level while proving to be quite the resourceful time-traveller himself.
Bacon is such a lovable dork and I loved getting to know him more. He's very kind and sincere, as well as funny – without really meaning to. For instance, in the beginning of the story his girlfriend has broken up with him, and Stormy suggests it might have something to do with his surname "Frogs", to which Bacon solemnly replies: "She said it wasn't that either. It wasn't until I went to her house last night and serenaded her with my digeridoo that she told me the real reason she left me." (Dev and I both had serious trouble containing our laughter at that mental image.)
As with the first instalment in the series, my only complaint is that it is a little on the short side. At 138 pages it is longer than Twisted Tale, but it's still a novella. I think a bit more time for both the plot and the characters to develop wouldn't have gone amiss. Although if I'm honest, the main reason I wanted it to be longer is because I was enjoying myself so much I didn't want it to end.
Bottom line: If you're looking for a fun, thrilling, character-driven story with steampunk elements, this is the book for you (but I advice you to read Twisted Tale first for a bit of background as well as a great story).