Bluebeard’s Machine by Mari Fee
A Silk, Steel and Steam Story
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (83 pages)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 3 books
Reviewed by Water Lily
Love, science, death. She is all three.
A Silk, Steel and Steam story.
Determined to discover what new experiment is stealing her husband’s attentions, Annette Parker ventures into forbidden territory—his study—only to discover a secret he would kill to keep. She is his fifth attempt to clone the original Annette and, according to his journal, he’s planning a sixth…after he dissects her dead body.
Unsure of who or what she is, she assumes a new identity and flees to the Orkney Islands and her last hope. The man she once rejected.
Isaac Ward’s first instinct is to get this mysterious “Miss Ada” out of his undersea laboratory—and out of his life—before he repeats the mistakes that drove him there in the first place. Her wild stories and stubborn insistence that they’re true wear his patience thin, but it doesn’t matter. She is as irresistible as the tide.
Then the truth appears right outside the portholes of his lab, stripping away her dubious disguise. Exposing a secret that could kill them both…unless Isaac abandons the science he knows for a second chance with the woman who broke his heart.
I really enjoyed the concept of this book — what happens when a clone realizes she’s a clone and an imperfect one at that? It opened a whole box of interesting issues I hoped would be explored. And some were. Why Ambrose cloned Annette and how he did it were addressed, but why Annette suddenly became “not Annette” when she realized she was cloned really threw me. All of Annette’s memories were her memories. What made her suddenly think of Annette as other? But the writing was compelling enough that I went with it.
Bluebeard’s Machine was good, but it could have been great. Maybe it was the length. Eighty-three pages isn’t a lot when it comes to describing complicated things like cloning and underwater houses much less crafting a compelling plot that tackles interesting topics like what makes a person uniquely themselves and not someone else. The writing was technically solid, but there were simply too many motivational issues for me. I wanted to know why and I was left wanting.
Ambrose should have been an interesting, complicated character, but he was cruel, unbelievably powerful, and strangely one dimensional. I would have enjoyed seeing things from his POV, his excitement at his apparent success, his disappointment when he realizes he’s failed, and his reasoning for making the subsequent decisions. Both Ada and Issac could have used a bit more development as well. The romance between them grew so quickly. Does Issac really love Ada or is it still all about Annette? How do either of them know? But Ada’s actions in the final chapter stunned me and made me question what type of person she was. A few quick sentences wasn’t enough to explain why she did what she did and how she even managed to do it. I’m being purposely vague to avoid spoilers, so if you want to know what I’m talking about, you’ll have to read the book.
Bluebeard’s Machine has such potential, is very unique and really is a good story. I never once even though of stopping reading it -- I was involved enough to need to know the resolution. Even so, I’d love to see Ms. Fee expand this into a full length novel.