I consider Regina Puckett the absolute queen of adult bedtime stories. But I better qualify that so you don’t get the wrong impression. When I say “adult” I don’t mean erotic or “R” rated, since the ones I’ve read are clean enough to read to a child. Rather, a child probably would not get the relationship and societal subtleties, though of course most of us who grew up with the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson never understood the underlying themes, either.
All that aside, I almost always read before I go to sleep and while I enjoy a wide variety of genres, including the pulse-pounding variety, there’s nothing better than one of Ms. Puckett’s after a stressful day when all you want to do is slip into a fantasy world prior to drifting off. (Clearly this might not apply to those she’s done in the horror genre which may not be so appropriate at that time.) So far the characters I’ve encountered are endearing and even though her stories tend to be relatively short, the people and plot are well-developed. There’s outstanding imagery and just enough detail to make the story come to life. Truly she’s a master storyteller, and I’m not an easy reader to please. It’s no surprise she’s won so many awards.
This particular steampunk tale as well as those in that genre I’ve read by other authors reminds me of hitting Earth’s reset button and taking us back to a simpler time with only mysterious remnants remaining of high technology. It’s a post-apocalyptic world where the few survivors are gradually rebuilding society. In this one, the main character, Liberty, travels extensively in her airship to different locales where she gathers goods to trade in other locations.
On the philosophical side, this is an interesting reminder that most merchandise and commodities (especially food) used to originate relatively close to home as opposed to coming from just about anywhere on the globe. In simpler times there was more accountability, similar to buying produce in a farmers’ market, as opposed to some of the questionable products from places like China found in modern grocery stores which I wouldn’t feed to a stray dog. Indeed, a few years back, products from that country were killing our dogs and cats, yet we persist in allowing these questionable consumables into our country. As one of her characters savored an apple I pondered the importance of everyday products we take for granted that could disappear given some sort of global disaster. Maybe it’s just me, but I found plenty to think about in this relatively simple story, giving it considerably more thought-provoking depth than you might expect.
The process of rebuilding society, one person at a time, is typically explored in this genre. Human nature being what it is, individuals would react differently to global disaster. The opportunity to take advantage of and exploit others is always there for those who are selfish while those who are more highly evolved would be concerned with the human species as a whole. Under such circumstances, society will rebuild sooner or later and most likely be entirely foreign to what we know. It’s nice to think that mankind would learn his lesson and try to get along with his fellow species better than we see today, but there are no guarantees. There’s just such a mix in Liberty’s world and she’s suspicious of everyone, which helps her survive. As you would expect, she has a rather jaded view of love as well which begins to change when she’s given a small robot named Boy. Before she knows it she’s developing a warm relationship with this wise and philosophical little being from which the tale’s title derives. Soon after that another trader like herself comes along as well and Liberty learns more about friendship and trust.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and definitely look forward to reading the next one in the series which promises to provide more information about Liberty’s background. If you’re looking for a mildly suspenseful tale saturated with charm and character to say nothing of a few philosophical considerations, I highly recommend this one. You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.