Convent of the Pure by Sara M. Harvey
The Convent of the Pure by Sara M. Harvey is listed as a Steampunk novel.
Original Review Date June 15th 2012
I'm not a fan of Steampunk though I have enjoyed the Girl Genius and I must admit that this novel as well as some others gave me good reason to look up the definition of Steampunk. Since I'm giving this one the possibility of a read that makes defining it almost paramount.
I have been willing in the past to nod to aspects of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells that would easily slide into the Steampunk genre. There have been some aspects of the horror or shock fiction which I've struggled with. Such as Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. All and all I think I came to an agreeable understanding that the Convent of the Pure qualified. It also opened the avenue to look to some of my other old authors and to see how easily Edgar Rice Burroughs could fall in this category.
In fact the description of some of the scenes in the macabre lab reminded me of the Master Mind of Mars. Even the subsequent 'surgery' kept taking me back to that old novel.
The narrative itself without the aspects of Genre was more than enough to sustain my attention most of the way through. There may have been two or three places where I caught myself skipping ahead. If I were of the ilk of those in some forums I would write a two page analysis of what was wrong with one paragraph or sentence. It would be more likely that the fault lie in the reader who may have been trying to get an advanced look at where things were going.
It did not hurt that I'm a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and that I kept trying to draw parallels to Portia and Buffy. But, this story has its own unique elements. I enjoyed the take on the Nephilim - the children of the sons of god and daughters of man. That they survived the flood and were hiding while assigning themselves as watchers over man. Elements of this part of the story bordered on a dystopic life for these watchers and once again - not a fan of dystopia novels. But it was Portia and her relationship to the ever present spirit of her lost love Imogen that catapulted me past those parts.
Being new to the genre I hesitate to say that the first half of the novel does or doesn't seem to contain much that is new and unique. It was a good and sustainable read and when I reached the second half which I'll refer to as that more grisly half I think the style and voice of the author, Sara, comes shining through. We see her show us Portia at her most vulnerable moments having to grow and learn to trust that the strength and determination she's been trying to build within herself is not as distant from her as she thinks.
Overall for me Sara M. Harvey may have tipped the scale that's been balancing me away from getting immersed in Steampunk. Way to go; as if I don't have enough to read already.