Book Review: Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond by Jayne Barnard—and a Giveaway!

Maddie Hatter and the Deadly DiamondMaddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond
Jayne Barnard
Tyche Books, September 2015
ISBN 978-1-928025-33-7
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Miss Maddie Hatter, renegade daughter of a powerful Steamlord, is scraping a precarious living as a fashion reporter when the story of a lifetime falls into her lace-gloved hands.

Baron Bodmin, an adventurer with more failed quests than fingernails, has vanished in circumstances that are odd even for him.

While he is supposedly hunting the fabled Eye of Africa diamond in the Nubian desert, his expeditionary airship is found adrift off the coast of England. Maddie was the last reporter to see the potty peer alive. If she can locate the baron or the Eye of Africa, her career will be made.

Outraged investors and false friends complicate her quest, and a fiendish figure lurks in the shadows, ready to snatch the prize . . . at any price.

I stopped reading steampunk a while back, mainly because I got tired of it and I felt as though each one was pretty much the same as the last. Then, one fine day, Jayne Barnard offered me a copy of this book for review and I was immediately drawn in by the title and by this oh-so-wonderful cover. Is that not one of the best covers you’ve seen in a while? And, OMG, the bird! Tweetle-D aka TD is one of the most charming birds I’ve ever come across even if he is made of brass and, quite frankly, Maddie’s snooping would have gotten  nowhere without this very special little sparrow.

Like any intelligent, forward-thinking young woman of her day, Maddie has no intention of writing about fashion for the rest of her career but she needs a miracle to propel her into something more exciting. That miracle kind of falls into her lap when the eccentric Baron Bodmin disappears during his expedition to Egypt in search of a fabulous jewel and his airship is found floating aimlessly without its pilot. Maddie is literally on the spot in Cairo and this is her chance but she has to be very circumspect in her investigations lest her society parents catch wind of her decidedly improper activities.

Keeping the proper rules of conduct in mind as much as possible but allowing for a few daring “missteps”, Maddie and her wonderful TD set off to get the scoop and solve the mystery while they’re at it. How could she possibly predict the twists and turns this inquiry will bring about as a missing person case becomes murder?

Egypt was another lure that enticed me to read Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond. Years ago, many more than I like to think about, I spent a week in Egypt and was completely captivated by the country and its people and it’s one of a handful of foreign lands I really want to visit again. In today’s climate of unrest and violence, that’s not likely to happen, so I enjoy Egypt vicariously through books such as those written by Elizabeth Peters. That love of Egypt was only one of the reasons I wanted to read this book, though, and Ms. Barnard reeled me in with one of the most delightful tales I’ve read in a while. It’s a lovely mix of mystery, science fiction, humor, froth and adventure that can be found in the best steampunk and I can’t wait to read Maddie’s next exploits. Write faster, please, Ms. Barnard!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2015.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To enter the drawing for a print copy of
Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond
by Jayne Barnard, leave a comment
below. The winning name will be drawn
Thursday evening, November 26th.
This drawing is open to residents
of the US and Canada.

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31 thoughts on “Book Review: Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond by Jayne Barnard—and a Giveaway!

    • You’d be safe trying this Steampunk novella, Caryn. Others with no Steampunk experience have read it and found it easy to grasp. If you win, I hope you’ll really enjoy diving into Maddie’s alternative 1898 world.

  1. I have to admit that I was drawn by the title because it sounds like a mystery. I’ve never read steampunk either, but it sounds like a fun read. The review is great! So enter me in your drawing, and happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    • I have never heard of it before, but I suppose that’s what makes it rather enticing…sort of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

    • I love this cover, Joan. The artist and the publisher’s art director came up with the design on their own, and only later did we all realize I’d painted the pyramids from the same angle for the launch backdrop (minus Maddie, who was represented by the living Steampunk who inspired her)

  2. Interestingly, the cover makes me think “graphic novel”. The story does sound interesting. Most of my steampunk reading has been Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century series.

    • I enjoyed Clockwork Century too, Gary. There’s quite a difference between the American regions, history and culture shown in those, and Maddie’s very proper English upbringing. I hope both show facets of the wonderful worlds of Steam.

  3. I really LOVE that there’s been so much enthusiasm here and I truly wish I could award a copy to every one of you but, alas, that can’t be. I’m happy to say that the lucky winner is robeader aka Robin. For all of you who haven’t yet ventured into steampunk, MADDIE HATTER is the perfect place to start so you should put it on your Christmas lists 😉 Mystery, light science fiction, a dollop of fantasy, Victorian Egypt, adventure and lots of quiet humor—what more could you want?

    And, Jayne, thank you for joining the conversation!

  4. Pingback: My Favorite Books of 2015 | Buried Under Books

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