I first found author Cherie Priest’s work through her Clockwork Century books because I enjoy steampunk. Her books were the first time I realized there could be American steampunk. Though Priest has moved away from steampunk, I continue to enjoy her work. It’s always rich, always captivating, even as she moves through and between genres.
Brimstone certainly isn’t steampunk, nor is it what I would call the gothic of some of Priest’s other work. Brimstone is, though, as Priest describes the book in her acknowledgements, a love story. Not a love story of the romantic sort–though there’s some of that–but a love story about how we should be taking care of ourselves and each other, in this life and in whatever comes after.
The book deftly alternates between the voices of the two main characters. Tomas Cordero is a Great War veteran who survived the trenches but returned home to discover his wife had died in his absence. Alice Dartle is a young clairvoyant who wants to learn more about her abilities and the world. Both are drawn to the Florida town of Cassadaga, where those who practice and those who appreciate the supernatural arts are gathered.
Through their dreams of fire, Alice and Tomas are connected before they ever meet.
Alice and Tomas are fully realized, and the varied members of the Cassadaga community who play their roles in the story each add their own parts to this violent yet touching story about the power of demons (personal and otherwise) and the human power that must be accessed to defeat them.
A thoroughly enjoyable read.