Daniel Ausema’s The Electro-Addictive Moth-Flame is a book in the Darkside Codex, a shared world series that revolves around the city of Southwatch. Stories in this world are based in the steampunk genre, but can have additional elements of science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, romance, paranormal, and/or noir.
Daniel Ausema’s novel centers on the city of Southwatch and life below the dark cloud. It deals with addiction, scientific experimentation, and mystery. Along with the steampunk setting, it has elements of science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror.
In The Electro-Addictive Moth-Flame, readers are introduced to Mellia, a young woman who is immune to most electrical currents, but addicted to high voltage. There is a limit to how much her body can stand, however. This addiction pushes her ever closer to death whenever she chases a high voltage fix.
Although Mellia realizes this behavior is killing her, the lure is too hard to resist. With her new job repairing broken gas masks for Professor Thurston and his students, she has to travel to the depths of the dark cloud to assist with the research. An innovation that allows an electrical current to run through the filters might keep the gas masks working, but this additional temptation may be the last thing Mellia’s addicted body can handle.
I enjoyed reading this novel. It was scary, but not in the same ways that a pure horror novel will evoke. Some of it has to do with the language and the vivid imagery, but it also has to do with the ideas Ausema presents about the poor quality of life under the dark cloud—ideas that have echoes in our own world. For example, look at the recent trip President Obama and other world leaders took to China. The news media reported that the Chinese Government worked for weeks to reduce the level of smog so the world leaders would not choke. For the first time in years, many people in Beijing could actually see the blue color of the sky. In The Electro-Addictive Moth-Flame, Ausema raises questions about this type of dense pollution. What happens in a city when the air is so polluted that the sun will no longer shine? What happens when plants and trees will no longer grow?
I stood in one place and pushed each of those thoughts and many others away until I could breathe in and out and think about nothing else. The murky air of the room pulsed, as if it were the breath of some unknown beast, hidden deep within the Cloud. When I looked long enough in a single direction, I began to see at the edge of my vision the ghostly outlines of the plants that had once grown there. Stunted fruit trees and flamboyant grasses and darkly glowing flowers, all now gone except for this deep memory.
Something that foul, something that terrifying, makes me shiver.
Disclaimer: I am also an author for the Darkside Codex series. My own novel, The Caelimane Operation, will be released in January, 2015.
Categories: Book Reviews