Book Review: The Brass Queen

S. E. Wigget
4 min readDec 14, 2023

Thank you, Goodreads and Camcat Books, for the free ebook galley of The Brass Queen by Elizabeth Chatworth.

The Brass Queen on the StoryGraph app

Chatworth, Elizabeth. The Brass Queen. Camcat Books, 2021.

This Steampunk novel is well-written, with a quirky female protagonist, witty humor, and an intriguing and mysterious plot that sparks the reader’s curiosity. I can’t hold it against the author that it’s just not what I’m in the mood to read.

Me reading the first few pages of a straight people book: “Oh, yeah — we finally have lots of books that center queer people. That’s what I feel like reading.”

The blurb called this book gaslamp fantasy, not Steampunk, so I wasn’t expecting Steampunk. Gaslamp fantasy is historical fantasy set in or near the nineteenth century — with a greater emphasis on magic than on technology. Steampunk has a greater emphasis on technology than on magic. The Brass Queen is Steampunk.

I lived in Portland, Oregon, for years and therefore saw people who wore Steampunk clothes on a normal, everyday basis (well, until about 2015 — Portland doesn’t seem quite as quirky anymore). I have two books on Steampunk art and style. So… visually, aesthetically, I appreciate Steampunk. However, I’m not into uniforms and not in the mood for reading about a society that’s even more fascist than what we’re currently seeing — and yes, a Queen Victoria who decapitates people for trivial reasons is fascist. Well, and psychopathic. Anyway, I haven’t read that much Steampunk.

As a writer of historical fantasy, I lean more toward historical accuracy (aside from some androgyny) in costume. So when I began reading this book and didn’t know it was Steampunk, I was appalled that the protagonist — a debutante at a ball — is wearing a bustle in 1897. After some reflection and awareness that this book is Steampunk, I concluded that the author didn’t intend the fashions to have historical accuracy.

There are other things besides fashion that are quite different from 1897 England in our reality, as I soon discovered. The book has detailed world building and Steampunk technology.

Some Assorted Reactions While Reading:

Kansas may not be a “glowing purple nightmare (p. 55),” but it’s absolutely a dystopic nightmare and my…

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S. E. Wigget

Outside Medium, I mostly write fiction, especially paranormal and historical fantasy, under either S. E. Wigget or Susan E. Wigget. WhimsicalWords.Substack.com