Book Review: Camelot Burning by Kathryn Rose

By day, Vivienne is Guinevere's lady-in-waiting. By night, she's Merlin's secret apprentice, indulging in the new mechanical arts and science of alchemy. It's a preferred distraction from Camelot’s gossipy nobility, roguish knights, and Lancelot’s athletic new squire, Marcus, who will follow in all knights’ footsteps by taking a rather inconvenient vow of chastity.
More than anything, Vivienne longs to escape Camelot for a future that wouldn't include needlework or marriage to a boorish lord or dandy. But when King Arthur's sorceress sister, Morgan le Fay, threatens Camelot, Vivienne must stay to help Merlin build a steam-powered weapon to defeat the dark magic machine Morgan will set upon the castle. Because if Camelot falls, Morgan would be that much closer to finding the elusive Holy Grail. Time is running out and Morgan draws near, and if Vivienne doesn't have Merlin's weapon ready soon, lives would pay the price, including that of Marcus, the only one fast enough to activate it on the battlefield.

by Kathryn Rose
series: Metal & Lace #1
publication date: May 8, 2014

Lucky me got approved to read the ARC on Net Galley. (Thank you, Flux.)Typically I don’t read speculative fiction, but the second I heard this book was Camelot meets Steampunk, I had to read it.  Growing up with a true love for all things Camelot, I couldn’t wait to see what direction author Kathryn Rose took these beloved characters in.  Told through the eyes of Guinevere’s lady in waiting, Vivienne is also the secret apprentice to Merlin.  Their hope is to save Camelot from Morgan Le Fey through machines and alchemy, getting them way too close to the magic Merlin’s was once addicted to. And yes, there’s kissing. Lancelot’s squire Marcus and Vivienne have the sweetest of romances.

What I was most impressed with Rose’s writing, is the creative world stylings and the word choices she used to fuse these two worlds together and make them come alive. From knights taking vows of celibacy, to their kohl rimmed eyes and gypsy tattooed bodies. (Merlin’s description was most especially delicious.)   Then her play on words like jaseemat (the Arabic word for powder to describe the Azur’s alchemy) and firelances and fusionahs as weapons. Rose does a fantastic job at creating a very detail rich world of sprockets and cogs mixed with metal and lace without saturating it so much that non-fantasy readers couldn’t enjoy it.  I can’t wait to see what Vivienne does in book two.