genre: historical · genre: romance · mystery · mythology · New Adult · Steampunk · Young Adult

Chasing the Star Garden – Karsak, Melanie

Fantasy, Steampunk, Young/New Adult, Romance, Mystery
5 out of 5 stars
Kindle 316 pages

An opium-addicted beauty.An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile.An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands.
Melanie Karsak’s Chasing the Star Garden takes readers on a thrilling adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem-colored waters of the ancient world. Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and shattered past, reluctantly plunges into a centuries-old mystery in a romantic adventure best described as Dan Brown meets Mary Shelley.
It all begins on one of the worst days of Lily’s life. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium. 
Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way. (Goodreads)

This was a very enjoyable read. It was quite refreshing from the stuff I normally read.
Lilly is an air jockey, someone that races airships across the world in Grand Prix style races. She had just finished the English Grand Prix, coming in second and getting bested by an American. Something that she was not happy about.

I’ve never read a steampunk book before, and I greatly enjoyed this one. And am eager to read the next book in the series.

I was immediately pulled in by the fact that the airship races, and Grand Prix reminded me so much of Formula 1 Grand Prixs.

There’s action and mystery right off the bat. Lily has docked her airship and was making her way over to the podium when a harlequin rushes through the crowd, right up to her, shoves something down her pants and proceeds to jump off the edge of her ship, killing himself.
No idea what had happened, and a big ball of stress and confusion, Lilly goes to an opium den to quell her nerves and forget about what happened.

Lilly uses opium, laudanum, and alcohol to numb her pain, to make her forget about her trouble past. And it works for a long while, until near the end of the book when she decides to give it up.
She first goes to her lover Byron to see if he knows anything about the package she received. Upon opening it up it is reviled to be a beautiful antiquated kaleidoscope.  Byron, just as baffled as Lily, sends her to see someone in Venice that will know what the kaleidoscope is all about.

Lilly takes her other lover with her, an Italian genius named Sal who is quite a tinkerer, and quite handsome as well. He is older then Lilly, with salt and pepper hair, tied in a  pony-tail. But is strong and muscular and  handsome! It’s clear from their interactions that he really cares for Lily, especially when he agrees to travel with her to Venice.

Chaos insures when they finally arrive, and Lily finds out that the kaleidoscope belongs to the worshipers of Aphrodite.

Not to be too spoilery, Lily is taken on a wild ride in her airship, dealing with pirates, and what not. Lily and Sal’s relationship grows, as does Lily as a person.

Towards the end of the novel instead of running from her past and her fears, Lily decides to face them head on. She is no longer alone and has found love and solace with Sal, and she has come to terms with what happened to her in her childhood and is no longer afraid of her past.

We get to know a lot about Lily’s past through intricately woven (and well done) flashbacks. We learn that her mother tried to drown her, before dropping her off at an orphanage. I really enjoyed how the flashbacks were done, they weren’t jarringly put into the book, but nicely woven into the story. Lily would be somewhere, and her surroundings would trigger memories from her past.

There is a second book out which I plan to read. Not sure what’s gonna happen in the next book, but I’m really excited to read it.

I’d say this was book was somewhere between Young Adult and New Adult. There are some mature themes, like drug and alcohol addiction, and a few steamy scenes, but nothing like ones found in NA books.

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