Book Review – Klockwerk Kabaret by Jack Wallen

Today’s book is the first true-to-form Steampunk novel I’ve read. It’s a pretty wide genre, and I’ve always been fascinated with it, but the furthest I’ve gotten into the genre was appreciating the aesthetic. As a result, I’m hardly an expert at Steampunk, but I do know a good read when I find one and I’m fairly versed in the SciFi and Cyberpunk that birthed Steampunk.

The story of Klockwerk Kabaret is set in a world of clockwork and steam-powered things. Yet, through this seeming low-tech, great things have emerged. Robots of varying degrees of capability exist and a hint of magic laps at the heels of the clocks. In the middle of all this is the titular Klockwerk Kabaret, a cabaret run by budding clockmaster Nathan Gage and consisting of mostly mechanical ladies, topped off by the amazing Olivia Nightingale.

At night, Nathan and Olivia don masks and set out to right wrongs in the mystical city of Mainspring. Yes. You read that right. Steampunk superheroism. That right there should be enough to get you to go buy this book (link at the bottom), but the rest of story is nothing short of fantastic. In addition to the clockwork and bits of magic, you’ve got dark chemistry and enough gadgets to keep 007 busy for a few missions, all lovingly detailed by Wallen’s prose.

Like SciFi and Cyberpunk before it, the world of Steampunk can take over a story if not handled correctly – think balancing a xenomorph egg on a spatula – and as soon as the story takes a back seat to the world it lives in, you no longer have much of a story. Wallen’s hand kept the world alive and breathing, but never let the technology and gears fully take over.

Klockwerk Kabaret reads a lot like some of the stories of classic heroes of pulp from back in the day. Imagine a Doc Savage or Shadow tossed into clockwork world. It’s got all the action and amazing gadgetry that’s to be expected from the golden age of action, but also has that tantalizing hint of magic. And Klockwerk Kabaret is set in a Steampunk world. Frankly, it’s a pretty incredible bit of genre-bending.


How can you not love this cover?

“The Morticia and Gomez of steampunk have arrived!
Mainspring – a quaint town removed from time and era. Powered by steam and clockwork, Mainspring has enjoyed decades of peace and prosperity … until, from a far-away land known as The Keep of Keys, Hieronymus Ebauche unleashes Hell.
Born of a long-forgotten vendetta, Ebauche transports his clockwork demons through a trans-dimensional portal to exact his revenge. Mainspring’s only hope – Nathan Gage and Olivia Nightingale; the proprietors of the Klockwerk Kabaret, where desire is brought to life with flesh and clockwork. When the doors to the Kabaret close, Gage and Nightingale slip into the shadows as vigilante crime fighters. The fight leads them to The Keep of Keys where they discover a much darker truth.
As the clock winds down, so too does the hope of Mainspring.”

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