The Waking Engine by David Edison is one of the most original sci-fi/fantasy stories I’ve read in a long time. From the intriguing premise of a city where immortals come to die, to the beautifully descriptive writing, to the full cast of very diverse characters, The Waking Engine is a book you need time and concentration to fully enjoy but you probably won’t regret it! I do need to note immediately that there is adult content in this one in terms of language (f-bombs and other offensive terms), some sexually explicit scenes, and a fair amount of gore (though not more than I could handle).
Note: I received an eARC of The Waking Engine through Netgalley for an honest review. Some things may be different in the final version.
The Waking Engine by David Edison
Published by Tor Books on Feb. 11th, 2014
Genres: Adult, Dark Fantasy, Sci-fi
Page Length: 400 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
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Welcome to the City Unspoken, where Gods and Mortals come to die.
Contrary to popular wisdom, death is not the end, nor is it a passage to some transcendent afterlife. Those who die merely awake as themselves on one of a million worlds, where they are fated to live until they die again, and wake up somewhere new. All are born only once, but die many times . . . until they come at last to the City Unspoken, where the gateway to True Death can be found.
Wayfarers and pilgrims are drawn to the City, which is home to murderous aristocrats, disguised gods and goddesses, a sadistic faerie princess, immortal prostitutes and queens, a captive angel, gangs of feral Death Boys and Charnel Girls . . . and one very confused New Yorker.
Late of Manhattan, Cooper finds himself in a City that is not what it once was. The gateway to True Death is failing, so that the City is becoming overrun by the Dying, who clot its byzantine streets and alleys . . . and a spreading madness threatens to engulf the entire metaverse.
- The first and most awesome thing to me about The Waking Engine is the City Unspoken itself. It is a city where all citizens of the metaverse generally end up eventually and Edison managed to bring to life a place that I honestly believe captures that essence. My favorite part of the first half of The Waking Engine was the description of various different districts in the city because, whoa, they were different than anything I’ve ever imagined (and I’ve read a lot of spec fic!).
- The writing in The Waking Engine is freaking epic. Edison has a mastery over words far beyond what I’ve encountered recently.
- The whole premise of The Waking Engine (and the plot that unfolds) blew my mind by its creativity. The Waking Engine fully lived up to the awesomeness promised in the premise.
- I looooooved the metaverse that The Waking Engine described, partially because it pulls from some of my favorite string theory and partially because it’s just so sci-fi awesome :D. There are pocket universes!! Science and magic are intertwined :D.
- The villain is creeeeeeeeepy. There were also a couple of layers of “villains” in that there are several entities trying to do various things in The Waking Engine so the final battle was kind of entertaining when everyone clashed, haha. I love the depth that this adds to the plot and characters, though, woot.
- The main character is gay! And not in a “insert diversity here” kind of way that he immediately jumps up and down and declares his sexuality. It was subtle enough at first that I doubted myself. I absolutely love that I’ve finally found a traditionally published spec-fic book that just casually throws in a gay MC, because it’s not a big deal :D.
- You know I love me some plot twists and The Waking Engine does not disappoint! I definitely didn’t see that ending coming *swoons*. I also rarely like epilogues, but The Waking Engine pulled off a great epilogue!
- Holy adult content Batman! I’m fine with reading the f-word in books, but I know a lot of people are bothered by derogatory words for gay people and there is some of that as well (used by a side character who certainly would use that language, it’s just not fun to read sometimes). Also there are some sex scenes that have some triggery stuff and are between the main character and another guy, which I expect will bother some people. (Note: I’m happy the author included these sex scenes where appropriate, but I realize that it’ll be an issue for some people.)
- At points the adult content seemed to go beyond what was really necessary for the story and character development into crudeness. There were also a couple of male-gaze-y scenes that made me frown. I appreciate darker elements, but there was just times that it went a bit too far for my reading comfort.
- You need a freaking dictionary to read The Waking Engine. I definitely was not 100% familiar with at least 5 words used several times in this one. This is good in some ways, but it got to the point that I was losing understanding (and didn’t want to have to actually pull up a dictionary).
- The Waking Engine is definitely a slower book with a rather languid pacing. I loved the descriptions, but it made the plot drag for a while. You have to be prepared to invest a fair amount of time into this one to really enjoy it I think.
I honestly was a little terrified to write this review (and it took me a while), because I just don’t feel like I can capture the essence of The Waking Engine in 1,000 words. If creepy, adult content, sci-fi/fantasy crossover, and descriptive are adjectives you like in your books, then you must pick up The Waking Engine. It isn’t for the faint of heart, and it isn’t a fast read, but if you are looking for something new that will stick with you for a long time, this is the book you’ve been looking for.
The Waking Engine by David Edison
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.