“Charlotte Amelia Caprice may seem like an ordinary girl. She has a job she hates, a boss she despises, and zero romantic prospects. Her friends call her Charlie, when she can keep one for more than a few weeks. Though Charlie may seem ordinary, she is anything but. Charlie doesn’t have a heart. Instead, she has a steam driven machine in her chest, always making her feel less than human. Gears and pistons have been using her own body heat to pump her blood for over a decade. There is one small problem. Her heart is beginning to break. When Charlie meets a brilliant man, one who could save her life, she must choose between being heartless and being alive. A simple choice for some, but for Charlie living on steam isn’t easy.” (description from Goodreads)
Fortunato takes a nice-sized leap away from her series, The Sin Collector, in the short story Steam. I’ve enjoyed The Sin Collector and the companion novella, The Sin Collector: Thomas, but with Steam it is a much different genre, set of characters, and overall feel that sets it apart from her past work.
At the base of this story is the theme of love. But this isn’t just a love story of romance. There is love on many levels throughout that can touch many different readers. This is all due to the life that the main character, Charlotte (or her nickname, Charlie,) has to live. When you live a majority of your life with an artificial heart instead of a human heart, things won’t be normal.
I really enjoy how Fortunato can put so much into a short story. There’s no lack of depth to her characters. As mentioned Charlie is a complicated character. Viktor also is hard to figure out until later in the story when things start clicking together. It is the complexity that allows the reader to think, predict, and still enjoy whatever outcome happens in the end.
Aside from the characters, I enjoyed the mixed genres in Steam. I don’t even know what to call it exactly. There’s part steampunk, in the technology used to keep Charlie alive, there’s a bit of a fantasy element because of this as well, coupled with being more of a sci-fi or at least slight jump into medical innovations of the near future kind of feel. All of this is placed in a very contemporary world where almost everything seems normal. Don’t let that make you think it’s confusing. I think it’s great that this story can’t be placed in one little pocket of a genre and forgotten. I think it appealed to me more because it doesn’t have a place anywhere but has a place everywhere, in a sense.
To wrap this up, I thought I’d be looking forward, more, to reading Fortunato’s The Sin Collector series book 2 when it comes out later this year. But, now that I’ve read Steam and seen her talents for working in an almost alien genre to TSC, I’m going to be on the lookout for more pieces like this to come.
You can grab a copy of Steam here:
And Fortunato’s other work can be found:
The Sin Collector
The Sin Collector: Thomas
About the Author:
Jessica Fortunato is a writer in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.
She has been a freelance reviewer for the past three years. She has always loved a supernatural aspect to literature, as well as the addition of theology, so it is no surprise that her debut novel “The Sin Collector” combines just that.
She has been a waitress, a cook, a librarian, a book binder, nanny, and even a hairdresser when the occasion calls for it. However writing is her main focus and she is thrilled to share the first installment of what she hopes will be a a beloved book series.
You can find more on the author at the following links: