The best fantasy & steampunk books with wildly worldly invention, highly questionable morals, & supreme ideas

Who am I?

I have been drawn toward tales and stories of the bizarre since childhood. As a reader, I look for works that will surprise me. The real world in general, I find very unsurprising (lord yes, I do!). When I read, when I enter the fictional world (my favorite!) I want to be inspired to read on. I have put down many a book through boredom. I am not a plough. If I am uninterested, I stop. These books have inspired me in my own craft. Currently writing my sixth novel of the unpredictable, I feel I have experienced enough to forward on some irregular reads of the pure and the awesome.  


I wrote...

Dave Bi-Plane Fights the Red Winged Death Command

By S.B. Norton,

Book cover of Dave Bi-Plane Fights the Red Winged Death Command

What is my book about?

An otherworldly tale ... of dreaming in the world of Sombre and of the mysterious Dave Bi-Plane.

Jasper Reeves is 15. He skates. Has music. Everything he needs. No clutter. There’s no room for clutter. Only room for Dave Bi-Plane. The airman's adventures in Sombre give Jasper a balance like nothing else can. He welcomes sleep. When he sleeps his troubles fall away. Dave Bi-Plane has his own trouble. Dave is being hunted. A squadron of Spitfires, known as The Red Winged Death Command, want something from Dave, something he is unwilling to give, something he can't give. They won't stop until they have it. An ultimate battle looms for Dave in the Nightmare world - a battle that seems impossible to win.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Ancient Appetites

By Oisín McGann,

Book cover of Ancient Appetites

Why this book?

A wildly imaginative tale from the wildly underrated writer, Oisin McGann. A lot of the ideas here stem from his fantastic artwork. (So impressed was I with the read, I Googled his webpage!)

The Wildenstern family is a power-hungry lot, set in a slightly removed, Steampunk/Dystopian idea of a long-ago Ireland. Competitive cousins, Gerald and Nate Wildenstern are wonderful characters, and Nate’s sister-in-law, Daisy, is quite the uppity aristocrat (you can’t help but like!).

There are wild animal-like machines, a lot of deaths, twisted family values, and mystery to be had within this book. Very much a page-turner. I am rereading again – and the rest of the series as well!


Mortal Engines

By Philip Reeve,

Book cover of Mortal Engines

Why this book?

How can one not love a book about moving Traction Cities? In a magnificently imagined world where these Traction Cities fight for what is left of a destroyed future earth (left behind by us humans – from a stupid massive war to end all wars – go figure eh!).

Tom Natsworthy is aboard the traction city of London. London needs to feed and hunt for smaller cities to feed into its mighty jaws. Tom soon learns that London’s sinister hierarchy of scientists are building their own bomb – MEDUSA. Tom is thrown from London when he befriends a physically and emotionally scarred stow-away slave girl, Hester. 

The journey back to the ever-moving London to try and stop – MEDUSA is an amazing one – I must say. So well written, brilliant actually.


The Hunchback Assignments

By Arthur Slade,

Book cover of The Hunchback Assignments

Why this book?

This was my very first read in the Steampunk genre. 

What a great book and series this is. 

As a baby, Modo is purchased from a travelling gypsy by a well-to-do aristocrat, the mysterious Mr. Socrates. Modo is hideously ugly. Mr. Socrates raises and educates Modo in proper English and manners and fight craft. He lives his life tucked away in a manor, hiding his face from society. 

One day, on a rare carriage ride through London, a grown Modo is abandoned in the streets by Mr. Socrates and has to fend for himself. He becomes a detective, yet he can never show his real face to anyone – he meets the beautiful Octavia Milkweed – she finds him curious and befriends him. The evil Clockwork Guild is causing chaos throughout London and Modo must get to the bottom of it. Then find a way to stop it. The adventure begins. A must-read.


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

By Ransom Riggs,

Book cover of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Why this book?

Ransom Riggs has created quite the extraordinary book here. It also reads like a graphic novel of sorts as there are a lot of odd photos to accompany the text. It crosses genres rather seamlessly as well, between Urban YA to Fantasy to Horror to a Speculative fictional realm where Miss Peregrines' home resides. It is a rare read with well-developed characters and plot. The children are all quite odd, though strangely likable. If you want different, this is as different as it gets. Gave me chills of the good and ill-feeling variety. That’s what you want, yes? I do.   


The Black Book of Secrets

By F. E. Higgins,

Book cover of The Black Book of Secrets

Why this book?

This book won a few awards and it is easy to see why. It has a brilliantly written plot of old-world small country European nostalgia of the Dickensian spirit. It twists and turns and is told from different perspectives. Deliciously sinister and greedy and secretive. Wonderful to read by the fireplace. The story creeps and flows to a heart drumming climax and Ludlow is a wonderful character. You have to love a book about an awful broker type that trades in people’s secrets! 

Highly recommended – hard to believe it was a debut novel by the author as well – but it was!


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in steampunk, murders, and teenagers?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about steampunk, murders, and teenagers.

Steampunk Explore 44 books about steampunk
Murders Explore 338 books about murders
Teenagers Explore 64 books about teenagers

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Because of Winn-Dixie, Watership Down, and Boxers if you like this list.