“Calico Thunder Rides Again” by T. A. Hernandez

This kind of Fantasy ought to have its own sub-genre. Sort of “steampunk art but modern-day with fantasy creatures thrown in.” The plot of this novel involves a late 19thcentury traveling circus with dragons and griffins and twenties-era gangsters with trolls as enforcers.

So much for creativity. The story is peppered with Characters with a capital “C,” as we would expect. It is, after all, a circus. Add to this a complex plotline with a couple of good twists, a love story that seems doomed by circumstance, and old-fashioned, “How shall we pay the rent?” suspense.

The only thing I found missing was enough tangible conflict. All the suspense revolved around imaginary threats, mostly financial. Even the physical intimidation seemed theoretical. There was nothing like a good old-fashioned car chase, a fight or a cliff to hang off to get the reader’s blood moving. Until the Chapter 23, when we got the whole book’s worth in the last 25 pages: gunfire, a magic animal mob escape scene, a dragon flight, and a “happily ever after, maybe if you read the next book in the series” ending.

Plenty of fun, creativity, and atmosphere. Recommended for steampunk and fantasy fans of all sorts.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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