May 17

The Best Of Steampunk Fantasy: Top 10 Books To Explore


Step into the world of steampunk fantasy, where the clatter of gears and the hiss of steam blend seamlessly with the flicker of magic and the allure of adventure. If you've ever found yourself fascinated by the blend of Victorian elegance and industrial grit, or if the idea of airships floating through foggy London skies excites you, then steampunk fantasy is the genre for you.

Steampunk isn't just a genre; it's a cultural phenomenon that celebrates the imaginative possibilities of an alternate past. It combines the best elements of science fiction and fantasy, setting stories in a world where steam power reigns supreme, and technology has a fantastical twist. Think Jules Verne with a dash of magic or H.G. Wells with a splash of alchemy. This genre invites readers to explore worlds where innovation meets enchantment, creating a rich tapestry of invention and intrigue.

"Steampunk is not just gears and goggles," says Gail Carriger, a leading voice in the genre. "It's a way of looking at the world, where the past meets the future in the most unexpected ways." This intersection of eras allows for stories that are as much about human ingenuity as they are about the limitless possibilities of magic.

What makes steampunk fantasy particularly compelling is its ability to blend social commentary with escapist adventure. It offers a unique lens through which to examine the issues of the past—class struggles, colonialism, the impact of technology—while providing a thrilling escape into a world where anything is possible. As author Cherie Priest puts it, "Steampunk is about finding the beauty in the machinery of the past and imagining how it could have shaped a different future."

So, whether you're a seasoned fan of the genre or a curious newcomer, prepare to be swept away by tales of daring heroes, intricate clockwork contraptions, and a touch of the supernatural. In the world of steampunk fantasy, the only limit is your imagination, and the adventure is always just beginning.

Steampunk Fantasy Is For You If...

Steampunk Fantasy is for you if you’ve ever looked at a steam engine and thought, "What if this could also summon spirits?" If you find yourself daydreaming about dirigibles soaring through skies tinged with alchemical smoke, or if you’ve ever imagined clockwork automatons clanking their way through grand Victorian ballrooms, then steampunk fantasy is your literary home.

This genre thrives on its unique blend of history and imagination. It’s for those who love the meticulous detail of historical fiction but crave the limitless possibilities of fantasy. "Steampunk is the collision of historical accuracy and wild invention," notes George Mann, a renowned author in the genre. It’s a playground where creativity knows no bounds, and the past is reimagined with a fantastical twist.

Steampunk Fantasy is for you if:

  • You’re a fan of intricate world-building: Steampunk worlds are rich tapestries of detail, where every cog and gear contributes to the overall atmosphere. The settings are not just backdrops; they are characters in their own right, teeming with life and history.

  • You appreciate a good blend of technology and magic: In steampunk fantasy, the lines between science and sorcery blur. This genre explores what happens when technological marvels meet mystical forces, offering a unique fusion that keeps readers guessing and enchanted.

  • You love stories with strong, inventive characters: Whether it's a daring aviatrix navigating the skies in a steam-powered airship or a brilliant inventor unraveling the secrets of a mysterious artifact, steampunk fantasy is filled with characters whose ingenuity and courage drive the narrative.

  • You enjoy social and political commentary: Many steampunk fantasies delve into themes of class struggle, industrialization, and the impact of technology on society. It’s a genre that doesn’t shy away from exploring the darker sides of progress and innovation.

  • You have a penchant for adventure and mystery: Steampunk fantasy is a genre that thrives on action and intrigue. From daring heists and epic battles to intricate mysteries and hidden conspiracies, the stories are crafted to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Top Ten Best Steampunk Fantasy Novels

As Jeff VanderMeer, co-editor of "The Steampunk Bible," eloquently states, "Steampunk is a way of re-envisioning not only the past but also the present and the future." It’s a genre that invites you to look at the world through a lens of possibility, where the innovations of yesteryear fuel the dreams of tomorrow.

So, if you’re ready to don your goggles, wind your pocket watch, and embark on an adventure where the ordinary meets the extraordinary, then steampunk fantasy awaits you. It’s a world where imagination reigns supreme, and every turn of the page brings a new marvel.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

“The Aeronaut’s Windlass” by Jim Butcher is an exhilarating start to the “Cinder Spires” series, blending high-flying adventure with steampunk flair. Set in a world where humanity lives in towering Spires above a mist-shrouded surface, the story follows the daring crew of the airship Predator.

Captain Grimm, the stalwart and strategic leader of the Predator, is a former Fleet officer who has been cast out due to political machinations. When the Spire Albion comes under attack, Grimm is recruited for a dangerous mission that could determine the fate of his home. Joining him are a diverse group of characters: Gwen Lancaster, a noblewoman with a talent for combat; Benedict Sorellin-Lancaster, her cousin who possesses enhanced physical abilities; Bridget Tagwynn, a young woman with a surprising strength; and Rowl, Bridget’s loyal and intelligent cat companion.

The plot thickens as they face the sinister forces of Spire Aurora, a rival nation bent on conquest. With battles in the sky and treachery on the ground, the crew must navigate political intrigue, ancient technologies, and their own personal demons.

"Fans of Butcher’s Dresden Files series will find much to enjoy here," praises one reviewer, highlighting Butcher’s skill in character development and world-building. “The Aeronaut’s Windlass” is a thrilling mix of action, humor, and heart, perfect for readers looking for a fresh take on the steampunk genre. With its engaging characters and richly imagined setting, this novel promises an unforgettable journey through the skies.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

"Boneshaker" by Cherie Priest is a riveting steampunk adventure set in an alternate 19th-century Seattle, reshaped by the catastrophic invention of Leviticus Blue. Blue’s incredible drilling machine, the Boneshaker, malfunctions and releases a toxic gas that turns people into the living dead. The walled-off city, filled with rotters and danger, becomes a no-man’s-land, isolating those within from the rest of the world.

The story centers on Briar Wilkes, Blue’s widow, and her son, Zeke. Driven by curiosity and a desire to clear his father’s name, Zeke sneaks into the walled city. When Briar discovers what Zeke has done, she braves the deadly environment to rescue him. Inside the walls, they navigate through a world of air pirates, mercenaries, and survivors who have adapted to the toxic landscape.

They encounter a diverse cast of characters, including the enigmatic Dr. Minnericht, who may have ties to Blue’s past, and Captain Cly, a morally ambiguous airship captain. Their journey is fraught with peril as they confront both human and undead threats, unraveling secrets that challenge everything they believed about Blue and the Boneshaker incident.

"Priest’s vivid imagination and skillful storytelling create a compelling world of wonder and danger," praises one reviewer. "Boneshaker" is a thrilling blend of steampunk and horror, offering an engrossing tale of adventure, resilience, and redemption. Perfect for readers who enjoy a mix of historical intrigue and supernatural suspense, this novel promises to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

"Clockwork Angel" by Cassandra Clare is the captivating first novel in the "Infernal Devices" trilogy, set in the magical underworld of Victorian London. The story follows Tessa Gray, a young American girl who travels to London in search of her missing brother, Nate. Upon arrival, Tessa is kidnapped by the sinister Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called the Pandemonium Club. She soon discovers she possesses a rare ability to shape-shift, a power the Dark Sisters intend to exploit.

Tessa is rescued by the Shadowhunters, a group of demon-hunters dedicated to protecting the human world from supernatural threats. Among her rescuers are the enigmatic and brooding Will Herondale and the kind-hearted and mysterious Jem Carstairs. As Tessa seeks answers about her brother’s disappearance and her own powers, she becomes entangled in the Shadowhunters' mission to thwart a nefarious plot by the elusive Magister, who aims to use Tessa’s abilities for his dark purposes.

Set against a backdrop of gaslit streets and opulent ballrooms, Tessa's journey is one of self-discovery, danger, and romance. As she navigates this new world, she must decide where her loyalties lie and what sacrifices she is willing to make.

“Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still,” reflects Tessa, encapsulating the novel’s exploration of power, identity, and emotion. "Clockwork Angel" combines thrilling action, intricate world-building, and richly developed characters, making it a must-read for fans of fantasy and historical fiction alike. This novel promises a spellbinding adventure that keeps readers hooked from the first page to the last.

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

"Retribution Falls" by Chris Wooding is a high-octane steampunk adventure that follows the misadventures of the airship *Ketty Jay* and its ragtag crew. Set in a world where airships sail the skies and piracy is a way of life, the novel centers on Captain Darian Frey, a charming but reckless rogue who is always looking for the next big score.

Frey’s luck seems to change when he accepts a lucrative job to hijack a cargo ship. However, the job turns out to be a setup, and the cargo ship explodes, leaving Frey and his crew framed for murder and piracy. With the law and bounty hunters hot on their trail, the crew of the *Ketty Jay* must navigate treacherous skies and unravel the conspiracy that seeks to destroy them.

The crew includes a colorful cast of characters: Crake, a disgraced aristocrat and demonist; Jez, a mysterious navigator with a secret past; and Malvery, the ship’s hard-drinking doctor. As they face danger at every turn, the bonds between them are tested and strengthened.

"Frey had never been a hero, but it seemed the world had mistaken him for one," captures the essence of Frey's reluctant leadership and the crew's fight for survival. "Retribution Falls" is a thrilling blend of action, humor, and heart, offering a fast-paced story filled with twists and turns. Perfect for fans of adventure and steampunk, this novel promises an exhilarating ride from start to finish.

The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

"The Peculiar" by Stefan Bachmann is a darkly enchanting tale set in a vividly imagined Victorian England, where faeries and humans coexist uneasily after the fae were exiled from their realm. The story centers on Bartholomew Kettle, a young "changeling"—a child of mixed faerie and human blood, known disparagingly as a "peculiar." Changelings are despised and must hide their true nature to survive.

Living in the fae-influenced slums of Bath, Bartholomew’s life changes dramatically when he witnesses a mysterious faery woman kidnapping a changeling. Soon after, he becomes entangled in a sinister conspiracy that threatens both faerie and human realms. When his sister, Hettie, is kidnapped by the same sinister forces, Bartholomew must summon his courage and embark on a perilous journey to rescue her.

Alongside Bartholomew is Arthur Jelliby, a reluctant hero and minor politician who stumbles upon the conspiracy and finds himself drawn into the quest. Together, they uncover dark secrets and navigate a world filled with magic, danger, and intrigue.

"Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged," Bartholomew’s mother warns, highlighting the precariousness of his existence. "The Peculiar" weaves a compelling narrative of courage, identity, and resilience, set against a backdrop of steampunk aesthetics and magical realism. This novel is perfect for readers who love richly detailed worlds and tales of unlikely heroes.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

"Mortal Engines" by Philip Reeve is a thrilling steampunk adventure set in a post-apocalyptic future where cities move on giant tracks, consuming smaller towns to survive in a practice known as "Municipal Darwinism." The story centers on London, one of the most powerful traction cities, and its young apprentice historian, Tom Natsworthy.

Tom's life takes an unexpected turn when he saves Thaddeus Valentine, a famous explorer, from an assassination attempt by Hester Shaw, a scarred and vengeful young woman. In the process, Tom and Hester are both cast out of London, forced to survive in the dangerous wastelands. As they navigate through perilous terrains and encounter various factions, they uncover a sinister conspiracy involving a deadly weapon known as MEDUSA, hidden within London.

Along their journey, Tom and Hester form an uneasy alliance, driven by a mutual desire to stop Valentine and save their world. They are joined by a cast of intriguing characters, including the resourceful aviatrix Anna Fang and the enigmatic Shrike, a resurrected cyborg with a complex past.

"Some scars never fade," Hester reflects, highlighting the themes of revenge and redemption. "Mortal Engines" combines fast-paced action with deep world-building, offering a unique and captivating story about survival, loyalty, and the quest for justice. Perfect for fans of dystopian adventures and intricate settings, this novel promises an exhilarating ride from start to finish.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

"Leviathan" by Scott Westerfeld is an exhilarating steampunk adventure set against the backdrop of an alternate World War I. The novel explores a world divided between the Clankers, who rely on intricate mechanical war machines, and the Darwinists, who use genetically engineered creatures.

The story follows two main characters: Aleksandar Ferdinand, a young prince on the run after his parents' assassination, and Deryn Sharp, a girl who disguises herself as a boy to join the British Air Service. Alek, the son of the Archduke Ferdinand, finds himself fleeing for his life aboard a mechanized walker, seeking refuge and allies to reclaim his throne. Meanwhile, Deryn, now known as Dylan, serves aboard the Leviathan, a massive living airship made from a genetically engineered whale.

Their paths cross when the Leviathan crashes in the Swiss Alps, and Alek and Deryn must work together to survive and continue their respective missions. Their alliance grows as they navigate the complex political landscape, facing dangers from both sides of the war.

"Sometimes the enemy of your enemy is your friend," Deryn reflects, encapsulating the novel’s themes of unlikely alliances and mutual survival. "Leviathan" combines thrilling action, innovative world-building, and richly developed characters, making it a must-read for fans of alternate history and imaginative storytelling. This novel promises a riveting journey through a world where the boundaries of science and imagination are pushed to their limits.

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

"Perdido Street Station" by China Miéville is a dark, richly imagined tale set in the sprawling city of New Crobuzon, a place where magic, steampunk technology, and political intrigue intersect. The story centers on Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, a rogue scientist with unconventional methods, and his lover, Lin, an artist belonging to the insect-headed Khepri race.

Isaac is approached by Yagharek, a Garuda (bird-like creature) who has been stripped of his wings as punishment. Yagharek seeks Isaac's help to regain the power of flight. Intrigued by the challenge, Isaac begins researching various forms of flight, inadvertently unleashing a dangerous force—slake moths, deadly creatures with the ability to consume minds.

As the slake moths wreak havoc across New Crobuzon, Isaac, Lin, and a motley crew of allies—including a renegade journalist, a sentient machine, and a crime lord—must find a way to stop the monsters before the city falls into chaos. Their quest takes them through the city's dark underbelly, from the eerie alleys to the industrial ruins.

"Monsters are born of pain," Isaac realizes, encapsulating the novel's exploration of consequences and morality. "Perdido Street Station" is a masterful blend of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, offering readers a vivid world teeming with bizarre creatures and complex characters. Perfect for those who crave intricate world-building and thought-provoking narratives, this novel delivers a thrilling and immersive experience.

Soulless by Gail Carriger

"Soulless" by Gail Carriger is a delightful steampunk fantasy novel set in a Victorian London where supernatural beings coexist with humans. The story follows Alexia Tarabotti, a strong-willed and witty spinster who is unlike any other woman of her time. Alexia has no soul, a rare condition that allows her to neutralize supernatural powers with a mere touch.

The plot kicks off when Alexia accidentally kills a rogue vampire at a society ball, attracting the attention of Lord Conall Maccon, the ruggedly handsome and brusque Alpha werewolf who heads the Bureau of Unnatural Registry. As more vampires and werewolves go missing, Alexia and Lord Maccon join forces to investigate the strange occurrences. Their partnership soon heats up, blending romantic tension with thrilling action.

Set against a backdrop of gaslit streets and elaborate social gatherings, Alexia's journey takes her from high society parties to secret laboratories. Along the way, she encounters a variety of colorful characters, including her best friend Ivy Hisselpenny, known for her outrageous hats, and the flamboyant vampire Lord Akeldama.

"Who could possibly understand the complications of a life such as hers?" Alexia muses, highlighting the novel’s charm and wit. "Soulless" masterfully combines humor, mystery, and romance, making it a must-read for fans of both fantasy and historical fiction. Carriger's engaging narrative and unique world-building promise an enchanting and entertaining adventure from start to finish.

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

"The Iron Duke" by Meljean Brook is a captivating steampunk romance set in an alternate Victorian England, where the world is reshaped by the technological advances of the mysterious Horde. The novel centers around Rhys Trahaearn, known as the Iron Duke, a former pirate who liberated England from Horde control and is now a national hero.

The story begins when a dead body is discovered on Rhys's doorstep, prompting Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth to investigate. Mina is a strong, intelligent woman with a complex past, marked by her mixed heritage and the prejudice she faces because of it. As Mina delves into the case, she uncovers a conspiracy that threatens the fragile peace of post-Horde England.

Rhys, intrigued by Mina's bravery and beauty, insists on helping with the investigation. Their mutual attraction is undeniable, but both are haunted by their pasts. As they work together to unravel the mystery, they navigate a world filled with airships, nanotechnology, and clockwork devices.

Set against a backdrop of political intrigue and technological marvels, "The Iron Duke" combines action, romance, and mystery. Rhys's determination to protect Mina and the burgeoning feelings between them add depth to their characters. "Trust is earned, not given," reflects Mina, capturing the novel's exploration of loyalty and redemption.

"The Iron Duke" is a thrilling blend of steampunk adventure and passionate romance, perfect for readers who enjoy richly imagined worlds and dynamic, multifaceted characters. Brook's skillful storytelling promises a compelling journey through a world where love and bravery stand against the forces of darkness.


You may also like

Start Saving on Bestselling Science Fiction & Fantasy ebooks!

Join for FREE and never miss any of our amazing deals.