A mystical vision of an airship appears to fifteen-year-old Juanita. The ethereal captain commands her to prevent California’s thrown-away people—including young children—from boarding trains to an asylum. That institution’s director plots murder to reduce the inmate population. Yet to save innocent lives Juanita must take lives of the corrupt. How can she reconcile her assignment with her belief in the sacredness of all human life? And will she survive to marry her betrothed?
Juanita sets out despite inner trepidation to sabotage the railroad. Her ancestor Billy guides her. Then bit by bit, she discovers the gut-wrenching truths all of her ancestors neglected to reveal.
Come visit Juanita’s world—an alternate nineteenth-century California—where spirits meet steampunk, where both love and anger emanate from beyond the grave.
|Publisher:||Sand Hill Review Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.79(d)|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite The Engine Woman's Light by Laurel Anne Hill is a coming of age story with strong characters and an adventure that is as action-packed as it is mesmerizing. It is 1894 and an alternate world in California. Fifteen-year-old Juanita gets a vision in which a long-dead captain entrusts her with the mission to protect the people. She is to prevent people from boarding the trains to an asylum — the only way to stop a sinister plot by the director of the institution. Follow her on a gritty journey as she sets out to fight evil, disrupting the railroad and tapping into her ancestry to find strength and inspiration. But can her world survive the shock of secrets she’ll learn and the moral question of having to kill in order to save the innocent? A tale of love and loss, of loyalty and redemption, filled with mature themes. Laurel Anne Hill has a great gift for character. I enjoyed the way the protagonist is developed. She is imagined with deep layers of complexity, and this helps a lot with the internal conflict that takes place within her. The themes of love, loss, inhumanity, and many more are skillfully written into the story. The narrative leaves the reader feeling as though they were in a dream world, having an adventure with powerful characters. The story is fast paced, filled with action, and featuring the kind of suspense that gets the reader engrossed in the story, wanting to know what happens next to the characters. The Engine Woman's Light is ingeniously plotted, a gripping story with a setting that reflects the eeriness of a dreamworld.
This one hit right down the middle for me. Possibly even closer to the lower end. I was promised a coming of age, mystical, steampunk story full of spirits and danger. Though I did get most of those, I didn’t quite get the steampunk aspects (besides the air ship that appeared and was mentioned only a handful of times), and I also got more sexual content and rape than I had expected. For the most part, the story was dark and powerful. It followed strong, brave Juanita as she fought to fulfill the wishes of her ancestors to stop a terrible travesty that had been happening to undeserving people for years. Trains of people, sick, old, mentally impaired, and unwanted orphans, had been sent to the asylum where poor treatment and murder occurred. Juanita had even once been an unwanted, orphan baby on one of those trains when she was saved by her great grand-mother, destined to become a mystic traveler. Juanita had the ability to see and communicate with her dead ancestors. She had the ability to travel to the Shadow World, and to even separate her spirit from her body. It was because of these abilities that she received visions of what she needed to do to save the innocent people aboard the trains. The story was unique and very powerful. I don’t know that I have read anything like it before. It combined mysticism and Mexican culture with the wild west in an alternate reality. I loved the family dynamic and the importance of following your ancestors and respecting them. The problems for me with the story were the unnecessary instances of sexual content, rape, abuse, and misogynistic oppression. There was even a situation after a character had been raped where she was told that she was at least lucky her face hadn’t been beaten in, like that was supposed to be worse than being violated. I honestly made it to the last 50 pages and kind of skimmed to the end. Though, the ending was kind of sweet, and intriguing, and even a little satisfying. And, though it sounds like I didn’t enjoy the story at all, I did a little bit, I just wish it didn’t have the gratuitous sex and rape, and a somewhat disturbing, abusive relationship. The characters were highly dynamic and very well developed. The world building was quite interesting and very descriptive, and the idea behind the spirits guiding Juanita was what kept me going throughout the story. I’d only recommend it to those over 18 looking for a powerful paranormal journey if you could get past the darkness, the sexual content, and the rape scenes. I’d rate it 2.5 to 3 stars. Thank you to Black Chateau for providing me with this free copy in exchange for my honest review.
Jaunita has had an interesting past, she was abandoned and left on a train going to an asylum for the poor. Luckily she was saved by her great grandma Zetta and the ghost of Zetta’s husband, Javiar. She ends up in a small village where at the age of fifteen she has a mystical vision of a dead captain in an airship. She is told that it is her mission to put a stop to trains carrying California’s unwanted masses to an asylum where they will live and work until they die. A plan is in place to murder part of the asylum’s inmates to bring the asylum’s population down and Jaunita may have to murder people to put a stop to it. Jaunita will not be alone though, she will have the help of her ghost ancestors and will meet other characters with complicated pasts. Jaunita will learn that her family has a dark side and she herself will have to do some horrible things to fulfill her mission. Jaunita is on a path that will change history along with her life, the question being can she live with the new person she will become? Jaunita lives in an alternative nineteenth-century steampunk world where spirits communicate with the living and our loved ones never really leave our sides. If I was to use one word to describe Laurel Anne Hill’s The Engine Woman’s Light I would use “different.” Laurel Anne has created the world that made me think of an old western with steampunk elements and spiritualism thrown in for good measure. The way the settings are described really bring everything to life and you can see yourself living in this world with its vivid descriptions. Since I haven’t read too many westerns or much steampunk, this book was like entering a new world, which was easy to get hooked on. Right away you are invested in Jaunita’s story since she was a baby she defied all odds. After being abandoned and saved, she is forced into a lifechanging mission that she has to accomplish whether she wants to or not. One thing I like about this story is that all the characters are shades of gray. Some characters here can be considered good, but sometimes they do bad things. There is a theme of redemption that runs through this book for a couple of the characters and even Jaunita wants to be redeemed for some of the actions she is forced to suffer through. The spirits in Jaunita’s family have done bad things in the past and are looking to get redemption through Jaunita and some of their actions have a bad effect on her. Another theme in this book I liked was the idea that the people you love or have a connection to, are never far away. Jaunita’s ancestors still talk to her, even though they are dead. Even Jaunita’s dead mother who she never met is always close to her. At one point we discover that two of the men in her life have a connection to her going way back. While reading this I felt that Laurel Anne Hill wanted to get the idea across that we are all connected whether we think it or not and even when someone is gone, they are never really gone. One of my favorite scenes in The Engine Woman’s Light is when Juanita is starting to have feelings for the man she calls Guide. When Guide reveals who he really is and what he has done in the past, Jaunita’s heart is broken, but they stay together to continue their mission and their relationship changes. Everlasting love is also a theme in this book as well as accepting someone for the good and bad they did in life. If you like books that transport you to a different time and place, then check this one out.