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Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear - Review

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Karen is trying to make the best of her orphaned status by working at Madame Damnable's high-quality bordello, along with a group of resourceful women, in an alternate pre-underground Seattle Underground. One night an injured girl arrives needing sanctuary and followed by the man who holds her indenture, and this man has a machine that can control people's minds and bodies. If that wasn't enough, they find the body of a brutally murdered streetwalker in their rubbish heap the next night.

Elizabeth Bear's Karen Memory has a little bit of something for everyone. It's a pulpy western sci-fi steampunk alternate history thriller with a dash of romance and featuring a memorable and diverse cast of characters. Karen, our narrator, has a distinct, honest voice and she carries this Jack-the-Ripper-esque story well. Even though Karen is such a great character, my favorite is easily Bass Reeves; he totally makes the story for me. If you are unfamiliar with the real-life Bass Reeves, I recommend you look him up. Overall, this new standalone adventure from Elizabeth Bear turns stereotypes on their head and is well worth your time.

I read this novel from February 29 - March 8, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.


  1. I've never heard of this before, but your description has me ready to read it right now. I'll probably check it out from the library! Great review!

    1. Thanks! I was so thrilled when my library purchased a copy! I hope you'll like it!


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