The best steampunk books

Who picked these books? Meet our 155 experts.

155 authors created a book list connected to steampunk, and here are their favorite steampunk books.
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Book cover of The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree

Jefferson Smith Author Of Strange Places

From the list on indie fantasy books.

Who am I?

As host of ImmerseOrDie, I've tested over 600 indie novels so far, searching for books that can hold me in their spell for at least 40 minutes. Unfortunately, self-publishing is rife with the quirks and gaffs that burst such glamours: bad spelling, bad formatting, ludicrous dialogue... Even allowing three failures before bailing, only 9% survived. And reading those to completion whittled the herd still further. So here then are the surviving 1%. A glittering few, plucked from the muck so that you don't have to. I don't promise you'll love them, but I do make one guarantee: they do not suck. And in the Swamps of Indie, that is high praise indeed.

Jefferson's book list on indie fantasy books

Discover why each book is one of Jefferson's favorite books.

Why did Jefferson love this book?

Most fantasies are set in a quasi-medieval landscape, but Hunt has chosen a deliciously different canvas: the Wild West. His hero is Ross, the estranged son of a famous fantasy author. When dear old dad is murdered, Ross grudgingly attends the funeral organized by the fantasy geeks and role-playing nerds who loved the old man's books. That much, he can handle. But being told that the fantastical world described in those books is real? No way! That disbelief is shattered, though, when Ross himself crosses over and is quickly drawn into the hunt for his father's killer in a nightmare world of gunslingers and monsters where the rules make no sense.

And to make matters worse: he hasn't read the books.

By S. A. Hunt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From award-winning author S. A. Hunt comes a blockbuster fantasy tale inspired by such old-school fantasy classics as Stephen King's The Dark Tower, C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, and Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.

After coming home from a stint in Afghanistan, veteran Ross Brigham learns that his father has passed away. Dearly departed Dad was a famous fantasy novelist, and the 300 fans that show up for the funeral demand that Ross finish E. R. Brigham's long-running magnum opus.

Ross and two of the author's devotees investigate his untimely death and discover that he might have been…

Fierce Heart

By Tara Grayce,

Book cover of Fierce Heart

Allen Ballantine Author Of Knight of the Wood

From the list on fantasy characters that will keep you coming back.

Who am I?

I love to read, and a good story is one thing. But once you’ve read the story, you know how it ends. It’s the characters in the story that determine if you want to go back and read them again. These are stories that I enjoy reading over again, (some several times) although I know how the story ends. The characters in these stories have inspired me to write my own.

Allen's book list on fantasy characters that will keep you coming back

Discover why each book is one of Allen's favorite books.

Why did Allen love this book?

Another thing I like in stories is seeing the characters having a normal family life, other than having one terrifying adventure after another. In this book, princess Essie, and her older brother Averette, who has recently ascended to the throne are trying to establish peace with their elven neighbors. As an opening ploy in negotiations, Essie offers herself for a marriage alliance, one she and her brother are positive the elves will reject. They are surprised when the elven prince Laesornysh, whose name means Death on the Wind accepts their proposal. Now Essie has to get used to living with elves, while the reclusive prince has to get used to an outgoing wife. Both are helped by the support of their families.

By Tara Grayce,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fierce Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Essie would do anything for her kingdom…even marry an elf prince she just met that morning.

The human kingdom of Escarland and the elven kingdom of Tarenhiel have existed in an uneasy peace after their last wars ended with both kings dead. As tensions rise once again, desperate diplomacy might be the only way to avert war. If only negotiations between elves and humans were that simple.

When a diplomatic meeting goes horribly wrong, Essie, a human princess, finds herself married to the elf prince and warrior Laesornysh. Fitting in to the serene, quiet elf culture might be a little…

The Subtle Knife

By Philip Pullman,

Book cover of The Subtle Knife

M.G. Herron Author Of The Auriga Project

From the list on fantasy with unusual portals to other worlds.

Who am I?

Is there any genre so purely escapist as a portal fantasy adventure? I grew up on stories like these, devouring any book I could find that had a portal in it, from Alice in Wonderland to The Chronicles of Narnia to Tunnel in the Sky. Books, in a way, are portals to other places and times, and as a child I wandered through the stacks of the local library, plumbing the depths of every strange world I could get my hands on. If you want to experience the long-lost thrill of falling into a story, few do it like those that take their characters through portals to other worlds.

M.G.'s book list on fantasy with unusual portals to other worlds

Discover why each book is one of M.G.'s favorite books.

Why did M.G. love this book?

Have you ever read a sequel that was better than the first novel?

The Subtle Knife is that book for me.

While it falls in the middle of the complete trilogy known as His Dark Materials, The Subtle Knife takes the story in a new direction by centering it on a knife with the power to cut a path between worlds.

The series follows young Lyra, her daemon Pantalaimon, and Will, a boy she meets who happens to be from a parallel universe. The worldbuilding of this series is some of the best I’ve ever seen, and it truly sets these books apart.

The concept revolves around how Lyra and Pantalaimon are connected. They are two creatures who share a soul. Lyra’s a person, and Pantalaimon is her daemon (think “soul made manifest”) with the power to transform into a fox, hawk, lizard—or any animal he so chooses. At…

By Philip Pullman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Subtle Knife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the world of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials - now a major critically acclaimed BBC series.

She had asked: What is he? A friend or an enemy?
The alethiometer answered: He is a murderer.
When she saw the answer, she relaxed at once.

Lyra finds herself in a shimmering, haunted otherworld - Cittagazze, where soul-eating Spectres stalk the streets and wingbeats of distant angels sound against the sky.

But she is not without allies: twelve-year-old Will Parry, fleeing for his life after taking another's, has also stumbled into this strange new realm.

On a perilous journey from world to…

Lord of the World

By Robert Hugh Benson,

Book cover of Lord of the World

S. Kirk Pierzchala Author Of Echoes Through Distant Glass

From the list on human determination to survive in the face of doom.

Who am I?

My imagination has always been captivated and fired up by reading traditional myths and fairy tales, as well science fiction. Growing up in the ’80s, I was particularly steeped in cinematic masterpieces such as Bladerunner and The Road Warrior, but I also loved reading classic sci-fi, as well as British literature, particularly the Brontes and Jane Austen. I enjoy and write speculative fiction because I believe it offers some of the best, creative ways to explore the timeless, universal truths underlying the human experience. Whether that exploration happens in subtle scenes of interpersonal interactions, or in the epic events woven in threads of dark and light across the tapestry of history, it’s all valuable and relevant.

S.'s book list on human determination to survive in the face of doom

Discover why each book is one of S.'s favorite books.

Why did S. love this book?

Literally one of the most ‘apocalyptic’ stories ever penned, this unusual tale follows the main character of a priest as he navigates a hostile secular culture and investigates what might finally be the arrival of the long-predicted Antichrist. The story is prescient in its predictions about technology, as well as political and cultural trends. The un-ironic steampunk vibes (which would have been cutting edge at the time of writing), are a fun plus.

By Robert Hugh Benson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lord of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Benson's dystopic vision of a near future world in which religion has, by and large, been rejected or simply fallen by the wayside. The Catholic Church has retreated to Italy and Ireland, while the majority of the rest of the world is either Humanistic or Pantheistic. There is a 'one world' government, and euthanasia is widely available. The plot follows the tale of a priest, Percy Franklin, who becomes Pope Silvester III, and a mysterious man named Julian Felsenburgh, who is identical in looks to the priest and who becomes "Lord of the World".

The Traveling Show

By Alexandra DeMers,

Book cover of The Traveling Show

Tam Francis Author Of The Flapper Affair: A 1920s Time Travel Murder Mystery Paranormal Romance

From the list on vintage fashion, passion and dance reads.

Who am I?

I write cross-genre fiction with a pen in one hand and a vintage cocktail in the other, filling the romantic void, writing novels when my husband deployed. When in port, we taught swing dancing and have been avid collectors of vintage sewing patterns, retro clothing, and antiques. All of which make appearances in my stories. I’ve always been fascinated with the paranormal and have had some unexplained experiences, some of those made their way into my stories as well. I live in a 1908 home in Texas that may or may not be haunted. I have book reviews, vintage lifestyle tips, recipes, interviews, giveaways, and games on my site!

Tam's book list on vintage fashion, passion and dance reads

Discover why each book is one of Tam's favorite books.

Why did Tam love this book?

I adored the alternative history post-apocalyptic/post-WWII, dark setting that had a subtle steampunk edge. The coming-of-age romance aspect was delightful and just the right amount of steam for young adults (though this adult wanted more). I fell in love with Rene and Amandine and the compelling, loveable, vivid unique supporting characters as well in Threadbare. DeMers knowledge of fabric, sewing, and fashion was evident in the writing. Threadbare, had great suspense and tension building with several wonderful twists, one I saw coming, the other surprised me in a delightful way. Overall, Threadbare had wonderful, creative, original characters and names like Tall-me, Glorious Halloway, Thatch, and Nieuwestad, plus the fun use of slang like cooking with gas, ducky shin-crackers, and more.

By Alexandra DeMers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Traveling Show as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do you piece your life together when the world is falling apart at the seams?

It’s 1945. The New American Republic may have beaten their enemies overseas, but the dark echoes of the Great Depression still linger on.

Times are hard, but Amandine Stewart refuses to give up hope. With her father killed in action and her mother imprisoned in the faraway city of Nieuwestad, Amandine embarks on a dangerous journey to reunite what’s left of her family. Along the way, her sunny disposition and gift for sewing lands her a job with a traveling band of performers who…

We Rule the Night

By Claire Eliza Bartlett,

Book cover of We Rule the Night

Karol Ruth Silverstein Author Of Cursed

From the list on disability and chronic illness rep in YA.

Who am I?

A big motivation for writing Cursed was what I saw as a dearth of authentic disability and chronic illness rep in books for kids. Where were the characters who were angry, messy, scared? Where were the kids in real pain—physically, emotionally, socially—who maybe weren’t surrounded by supportive friends and family and maybe didn’t handle their diagnoses with grace? When I was first diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at thirteen, I was all of the above—and then some. I’ve identified as disabled for 30+ years and am active in various disability groups and spaces. It’s my pleasure to champion kids’ books with authentic disability and chronic illness representation. 

Karol's book list on disability and chronic illness rep in YA

Discover why each book is one of Karol's favorite books.

Why did Karol love this book?

Confession: I’m not a big fantasy reader. I was drawn to this book because there was a disability rep in it—and thank God!—as it ended up being one of my favorite books in recent years. Part steampunk dystopian war story, part feminist manifesto, We Rule the Night is riveting the entire way through. One of the dual protagonists, Revna, is an amputee whose prosthetic legs are made of sentient metal—one of two different kinds of magic in the utterly fascinating world Bartlett has created. Renva and her flight partner in the war effort, Linné, are both completely badass and unapologetic. 

By Claire Eliza Bartlett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Rule the Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After a century of growth, trade union membership and influence have begun to decline in most of the economically advanced countries. This comprehensive analysis of membership trends covers developing as well as industrialized countries. The author's thesis is that the unions have failed to pay sufficient attention to the concerns of a labor force that is more educated, with a higher participation of women, and with a greater concern for job security than was true in the past.

Book cover of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

Kyt Wright Author Of Sirkkusaga

From the list on science fiction and fantasy series that influenced me.

Who am I?

I was born in 1957, the year the Space Race started when the USSR launched its first satellite and grew up with astronauts and cosmonauts on the TV. Yuri Gagarin and Gordon Cooper were familiar names to me as a child but I only really started to take notice as the Apollo programme ramped up. Science fiction influenced me at an very early age with books like Kemlo and Tom Swift and, having pestered my English teacher with my embryonic works decided at seventeen to write my own novel. Some years later and just short of sixty I finally wrote Sirkkusaga and now have seven published works out there - as well as two anthologies.

Kyt's book list on science fiction and fantasy series that influenced me

Discover why each book is one of Kyt's favorite books.

Why did Kyt love this book?

A three novel serial with tones of Victorian adventure and steampunk fantasy that sets three disparate characters against a mysterious cabal with influence in the government of an unnamed European country (possibly an analogue of Victorian England) – with the sinister glass of which the books are made able to record and play back real-life events (quite often sexual or violent) to be experienced (quite literally) by the reader.

Each chapter of the books are seen from the point of view of one of the main characters; Miss Celeste Temple – a stereotypical Victorian adventuress and heir to a fortune who finds herself drawn to both Cardinal Chang – neither a cardinal nor Oriental, he is a dichotomy, capable of extreme violence but with a decent side and a love of poetry; and to the Contessa – ostensibly evil, she is a beautiful, cunning and deadly woman who seems to…

By Gordon Dahlquist,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here begins an extraordinary alliance—and a brutal and tender, shocking, and electrifying adventure to end all adventures.

It starts with a simple note. Roger Bascombe regretfully wishes to inform Celeste Temple that their engagement is forthwith terminated. Determined to find out why, Miss Temple takes the first step in a journey that will propel her into a dizzyingly seductive, utterly shocking world beyond her imagining—and set her on a collision course with a killer and a spy—in a bodice-ripping, action-packed roller-coaster ride of suspense, betrayal, and richly fevered dreams.

Book cover of The Imago Sequence and Other Stories

Paul StJohn Mackintosh Author Of Blowback

From the list on modern Lovecraftian horror.

Who am I?

I believe that H.P. Lovecraft, only now appreciated at his full stature, has spawned a whole generation of equally brilliant writers who make modern weird horror the most vibrant, confrontational, and relevant of all current genres. He looms over today’s literature and pop culture like Cthulhu looms over the sea, and his heirs include some of the best writers of their generation. As a much-travelled Scottish writer, I’ve needed tools to tackle the chaotic, disorienting contemporary experience, as well as the darkest, most imaginative strains of my own Celtic legacy. Lovecraftian horrorthrough HPL’s explicit mythos or simply his implicit sensibility—served up the palette I needed to do that. 

Paul's book list on modern Lovecraftian horror

Discover why each book is one of Paul's favorite books.

Why did Paul love this book?

Laird Barron may be the Robert E. Howard of modern horror and weird fiction—or its Dashiell Hammett. So hard-boiled you could break rocks with it, his prose is ferociously energetic, brutally unsettling, and consummately capable of crafting its own phantasmagoric world. If Melville was resurrected and took to writing plots for Quentin Tarantino, the result might be Laird Barron. The Imago Sequence is among his best collections, but almost any of them is equally strong.

By Laird Barron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Imago Sequence and Other Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To the long tradition of eldritch horror pioneered and refined by writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Peter Straub, and Thomas Ligotti comes Laird Barron, an author whose literary voice invokes the grotesque, the devilish, and the perverse with rare intensity and astonishing craftsmanship.

Collected here for the first time are nine terrifying tales of cosmic horror, including the World Fantasy Award-nominated novella "The Imago Sequence," the International Horror Guild Award-nominated "Proboscis," and the never-before-published "Procession of the Black Sloth." Together, these stories, each a masterstroke of craft and imaginative irony, form a shocking cycle of distorted evolution, encroaching chaos, and…


By Roderick Gordon, Brian Williams,

Book cover of Tunnels

Kevin Moran Author Of Lying Beneath

From the list on fiction books set in underground worlds.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing fiction for as long as I can remember, but more formally for over a decade. I have published a variety of works from short-story collections to children’s books, and my latest is a science-fiction trilogy set in an underground world. I’m passionate about imagination and creativity, and love exploring different kinds of books and different ways of expressing similar ideas.

Kevin's book list on fiction books set in underground worlds

Discover why each book is one of Kevin's favorite books.

Why did Kevin love this book?

Another overlooked book because it is targeted for children. It’s the first in a series and is darker in tone than others. The imagination of the underground world here is neat and built in such a way that lets you envision it. The plot can be a bit disjointed for younger readers, and there are some twists to keep it interesting, but overall, is a fast read.

By Roderick Gordon, Brian Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tunnels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fourteen-year-old Will Burrows lives with his family in London. He
has little in common with them except for a passion for digging
which he shares with his father.

When his father suddenly disappears down an unknown tunnel, Will
decides to investigate with his friend Chester. Soon they find themselves
deep underground, where they unearth a dark and terrifying
secret - a secret which may cost them their lives.

The Cloud Roads

By Martha Wells,

Book cover of The Cloud Roads

K. Eason Author Of Enemy

From the list on weird-ass (and wonderful) world-building fantasy.

Who am I?

I'm a long-time role-player/gamemaster and reader of SFF, and I've read, created, and played (and written!) a lot of stories. Good stories come from good characters. We all know that. But part of what makes characters good is that they're believable, and to me their believability is inextricable from the worlds they come from. A world-build—setting, weather, technology, magic, science, cultures, and languages—should BE as much of a character as the protagonist(s). While I admit a fond nostalgia for ye olde semi-Euro-medieval setting, I love a world-build that challenges or surprises me, and I love the characters and stories that come out of those worlds. I hope you do too.

K.'s book list on weird-ass (and wonderful) world-building fantasy

Discover why each book is one of K.'s favorite books.

Why did K. love this book?

Shapeshifting lizard people. Oh. You want me to say something else?

How about... a world like no other, peopled by all manner of beings (but no humans, which is honestly a delight). The setting is so fantastic, but also so meticulously designed—every settlement and civilization feels organic, fully realized, and unlike anything else. But what about the story—?

Moon doesn't know where he's from, but he knows he's the only shapeshifter he's ever met, and the only person with wings...and worse, he thinks he's part of the terrible Fell, a species that seems to be invasive and hostile and looks a lot like him.

Then he meets another Raksura, and learns how wrong he's been about everything, including himself. 

By Martha Wells,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Cloud Roads as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nominated for the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Series. "Wells...merrily ignores genre conventions as she spins an exciting adventure around an alien hero who anyone can identify with."-Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Moon has spent his life hiding what he is - a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight.

An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself . . . someone…

The Spectral City

By Leanna Renee Hieber,

Book cover of The Spectral City

Eileen Charbonneau Author Of Watch Over Me

From the list on history set in New York City.

Who am I?

Eileen Charbonneau’s love affair with New York City was cemented the day she was downtown on jury duty and witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks. New York is the Melting Pot birthplace of her parents, home of her first job (Brooklyn) first Shakespeare (Central Park) and Folk music (Greenwich Village) performances, first apartments (West Village and Washington Heights), and first cocktail (Kir Royale at the Algonquin). Many family stories and deep roots remain.

Eileen's book list on history set in New York City

Discover why each book is one of Eileen's favorite books.

Why did Eileen love this book?

The Spectral City series by Leanna Hieber is for those who like their Gaslight era New York history mixed with ghosts! Narrated by a young woman with the gift of ghost communicator, she sees spirits beyond the veil of our corporal existence. And what a world is there! Her mystery-cracking team helps her confront the dark world. Don’t worry—attention to historical details is spot on, and so is police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt’s confidence in his sleuth. I love a ghost story where the ghosts have afterlives of their own, don’t you? Enjoy these detective stories with unique sidekicks of their resourceful heroine.

By Leanna Renee Hieber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Spectral City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Solving crime isn’t only for the living.
In turn-of-the century New York City, the police have an off-the-books spiritual go-to when it comes to solving puzzling corporal crimes . . .
Her name is Eve Whitby, gifted medium and spearhead of The Ghost Precinct. When most women are traveling in a gilded society that promises only well-appointed marriage, the confident nineteen-year-old Eve navigates a social circle that carries a different kind of chill. Working with the diligent but skeptical Lieutenant Holtzmann, as well as a group of fellow psychics and wayward ghosts, Eve proves her worth against a world of…

Book cover of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

Kristen O'Neal Author Of Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses

From the list on when something queer’s afoot.

Who am I?

It’s great for me, personally, that queer means both strange and gay, in some way, because I’m both. I love writing stories that are zany, bizarre, and supernatural, but still grounded in the real world; giving detail to the strangeness makes it feel more real, like something that could have happened to a friend of a friend. I’m particularly moved by stories that work on both the literal and metaphorical level – being a werewolf is a metaphor for being queer and chronically ill, but my werewolf, Brigid, is also a chronically ill lesbian. Here are five of my favorite books that capture both definitions of the word queer. 

Kristen's book list on when something queer’s afoot

Discover why each book is one of Kristen's favorite books.

Why did Kristen love this book?

Natasha Pulley’s grounded historical novel marries detailed research of late-19th-century England and Japan with something stranger and more fantastical – but these elements together heighten the narrative. Clerk Thaniel Steepleton’s relationship with clockwork-maker Keita Mori centers the story – they change one another in ways that even fate can’t completely anticipate. There’s a lot of tenderness between them, and it captures the way that falling in love can feel like meeting someone again, instead of for the first time. Also, there’s a pet clockwork octopus. That’s vital. 

By Natasha Pulley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Watchmaker of Filigree Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE AUTHORS' CLUB BEST FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2016 SHORTLISTED FOR THE BETTY TRASK PRIZE 2016 FINALIST FOR THE LOCUS FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2016 An International Bestseller - A Guardian Summer Read - An Amazon Best Book of the Month - A Goodreads Best Book of the Month - A Buzzfeed Summer Read - A Foyles Book of the Month - AHuffington Post Summer Read - A Yorkshire Post Book of the Week In 1883, Thaniel Steepleton returns to his tiny flat to find a gold pocketwatch on his pillow. But he has worse fears than generous burglars; he…

Fires of Invention

By J. Scott Savage,

Book cover of Fires of Invention

Amanda Hamm Author Of Beyond Wisherton

From the list on fantasy to read with your kids.

Who am I?

My favorite books—to read and to write—have always been funny Christian romances. But all four of my kids prefer fantasy. They want me to read with them, and they’ve been asking me to read nothing but fantasy for years. Now I can say it’s my second favorite genre. In fact, I learned to like it so much I eventually started writing a children’s fantasy series of my own, in between all the mushy stuff. Beyond Wisherton is the first in that series.

Amanda's book list on fantasy to read with your kids

Discover why each book is one of Amanda's favorite books.

Why did Amanda love this book?

Dragons are cool. The one on this cover is clearly mechanical, and that got my attention. Cove is a rather dark setting so I would only recommend this for older kids. Readers can tell from the beginning that the oppressive society is rooted in fear. What is behind that fear? The main characters, Trenton and Kallista, aren’t all that concerned with the bigger picture. They’re only trying to solve a puzzle left by Kallista’s father. We get to watch them become good friends in the process.

By J. Scott Savage,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fires of Invention as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and “invention” is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion—an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity.

Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin…


By Betsy Cornwell,

Book cover of Mechanica

Sara Fujimura Author Of Faking Reality

From the list on teens who are builders and makers.

Who am I?

I write books for intelligent, adventurous, globally-minded teens who aren’t afraid to fall in love with someone different from themselves. I started as a journalist, so it is no surprise that my YA books contain a lot of facts to go along with the fiction. Whether you want to know about Japan (Tanabata Wish), the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 (Breathe), what it’s like to be an Olympic-caliber skater (Every Reason We Shouldn’t), or how unscripted television works (Faking Reality), I take readers on swoony journeys to unusual places. So, if you like books that educate as they entertain, I hope you’ll check this book list—plus my books—out.

Sara's book list on teens who are builders and makers

Discover why each book is one of Sara's favorite books.

Why did Sara love this book?

I wasn’t sure how Cornwell could possibly make a Cinderella retelling fresh and unique, but she did. She roots Nicolette—who her evil stepsisters call Mechanica—deep enough in the classic fairytale that we get all the satisfying beats, but then Cornwell turns them on their head. I love steampunk stories, and Cornwell replaces the Disney-fied animal helpers with mechanical insects and a metal horse fueled by coal and outlawed faery magic. She also addresses some outdated ideas in earlier renditions for a modern twist set in a Victorian-ish time period. Though Nicolette is not the first mechanical Cinderella on the YA bookshelf, Mechanica is not a rip-off of Marissa Meyer’s Cinder. I enjoyed both of them. 

By Betsy Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mechanica as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nicolette's awful stepsisters call her "Mechanica" to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother's knee. Her mum is gone now, though, and the Steps have pushed her into a life of dreary servitude. When she discovers a secret workshop in the cellar on her sixteenth birthday and befriends Jules, a tiny magical metal horse. Nicolette starts to imagine a new life for herself. And the timing may be perfect: There's a technological exposition and a royal ball on the horizon. Determined to invent her own happily-ever-after, Mechanics seeks to wow the prince…

The Silvered

By Tanya Huff,

Book cover of The Silvered

Ju Honisch Author Of Obsidian Secrets

From the list on combining fantasy with “the past”.

Who am I?

History and legend: The actual past and all the myths and stories that ride along with it. I have an M.A. in history and have always been interested in old folklore and myth. So I write fantasy novels set in the 19th century. The flair is steampunk-ish, the setting strictly historical – except for the fact that magic and mythical creatures exist. Magic is taught in Arcane Lodges, mythical beings can be pretty much anything: vampire, body-snatcher, werewolf, dryad, nymph, etc. My first novel Obsidian Secrets (Das Obsidianherz) won the Deutscher Phantastik Preis. Wings of Stone of the same series won the SERAPH as the "Best Fantasy Novel" at Leipzig Book Fair.

Ju's book list on combining fantasy with “the past”

Discover why each book is one of Ju's favorite books.

Why did Ju love this book?

I love Tanya Huff’s style of writing as much as I like her wonderful ideas.

The heroes and heroines in her novels are so well crafted you almost feel you know them personally, which to my mind is the key to a good read. 

The Silvered has Steampunk elements. It is, however, set in an invented world that shows some resemblance to our 19th century. The book is a thrilling fantasy novel combining Steampunk with magic: I love the combination.

By Tanya Huff,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Silvered as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Empire has declared war on the were-ruled kingdom of Aydori, capturing five women of the Mage-Pack, including the wife of the Pack- leader. With the Pack off defending the border, it falls to Mirian Maylin and Tomas Hagen-she a low-level mage, he younger brother to the Pack- leader-to save them. But with every step into enemy territory, the odds against their survival grow steeper...


By Scott Westerfeld, Keith Thompson (illustrator),

Book cover of Leviathan

Reese Hogan Author Of Shrouded Loyalties

From the list on cross-dressing women in wartime.

Who am I?

As a nonbinary trans guy, I grew up obsessed with novels about women disguising themselves as men. I loved everything about the trope, and always felt disappointed when they had to go back to living as women. It is a trope I eagerly embraced when I wrote Shrouded Loyalties, and though I didn’t yet know the term “transgender,” I was already exploring my own gender identity through my reading and writing of this theme. The books I’ve chosen to highlight here are ones that became some of my very favorites, and also feature action-packed wartime settings like the one used in Shrouded Loyalties.

Reese's book list on cross-dressing women in wartime

Discover why each book is one of Reese's favorite books.

Why did Reese love this book?

With a vibrant steampunk setting that pits airships against fantastical creatures, Leviathan follows the story of Deryn Sharp, who joins the air service disguised as a male soldier. The second character we follow is a young prince disguised as a commoner, trying to flee the country Deryn is fighting. This is my favorite type of story, told in the same way as in my book: with tight points of view from drastically different characters on opposing sides of a war, who both have big secrets that could destroy them if the other finds out. Action-packed and daring, it was everything I’d hoped for when I picked it up.

By Scott Westerfeld, Keith Thompson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Leviathan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two opposing forces are on the brink of war. The Clankers - who put their faith in machinery - and the Darwinists - who have begun evolving living creatures into tools. Prince Aleksandar, the would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, comes from a family of Clankers, and travels the country in a walker, a heavily-fortified tank on legs. Meanwhile Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy, works for the British Empire, crewing the ultimate flying machine: an airship made of living animals. Now, as Alek flees from his own people, and Deryn crash-lands in enemy territory, their lives are…

The Diamond Age

By Neal Stephenson,

Book cover of The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer

Louise Blackwick Author Of 5 Stars

From the list on inspired neon science fiction.

Who am I?

After experimenting with fictional digitized worlds for the greater part of a decade, my writing journey has led me to discover a new, never-before-tried flavour of science fiction. My name is Louise Blackwick and I am the creator of Neon Science-Fiction – a subgenre of sci-fi that combines stylistic, thematic, and aesthetic elements of Post-Cyberpunk, Cyber noir, and Nanopunk. The reading list I compiled includes five science fiction stories that both influenced and facilitated the birth of this fresh and hopefully thought-provoking new genre. I hope Neon Sci-Fi can be a stimulating new addition for science fiction readers and authors alike.

Louise's book list on inspired neon science fiction

Discover why each book is one of Louise's favorite books.

Why did Louise love this book?

As one of the founding fathers of Nanopunk, Neal Stephenson’s writings form a straightforward bridge between Postcyberpunk and Neon Science-Fiction. His novel is a collection of exotic technologies like matter compilers, smart paper, immunity-enhancing particles, and foldable transportable mech-horses. Eventually, I found myself inspired to create exotic tech of my own (e.g. foods, arts, weapons, and technologies fully based on “Dark”, an unconstructed area of “empty space” featured somewhat heavily in my neon sci-fi novel). Stephenson’s novel also depicts an extremely globalized future, founded on molecular nanotech, rapidly assembled usable goods, and socio-cultural division. The title’s allusion to a “Diamond Age” fully based on nanotechnology (diamonds can be assembled from individual carbon atoms) is a complex commentary on economics and how an object loses its value through mass production.

By Neal Stephenson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Diamond Age as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The future is small. The future is nano . . .

And who could be smaller or more insignificant than poor Little Nell - an orphan girl alone and adrift in a world of Confucian Law, Neo-Victorian values and warring nanotechnology?

Well, not quite alone. Because Nell has a friend, of sorts. A guide, a teacher, an armed and unarmed combat instructor, a book and a computer: the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer is all these and much much more. It is illicit, magical, dangerous.

And it isn't Nell's. It was stolen. And now…

Etiquette & Espionage

By Gail Carriger,

Book cover of Etiquette & Espionage

Susan Corso Author Of Jezebel Rising

From the list on subversive historical fiction.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading historical fiction since childhood—it’s my preferred method for learning history. I want to know who people were in an everyday way, not as broad-brush reporting. My tastes are not limited to particular eras although I do my best to skip as much battle detail as I can. I like historical fiction that has character as its throughline. Who are these people? What do/did they want? How did they get it? I think my theatre background and training are what make me ask questions like these. What did they have for dinner? What did they talk about? Their excesses, their eccentricities, their excellences.

Susan's book list on subversive historical fiction

Discover why each book is one of Susan's favorite books.

Why did Susan love this book?

Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. A finishing school? Um, ye-ees. For spies. Spies? Uh-huh. On a dirigible. A—what? In a culture where vampires and werewolves are part of society. Wrapped in a huge steampunk bow. Etiquette and espionage. Curtsies and conspiracies. Waistcoats and weaponry. Manners and mutiny. What could possibly go wrong? (What can’t?) Gail Carriger’s Parasolverse is their entirely diabolically magical setting. Her writing is laugh-out-loud clever, witty as Noel Coward, deeply principled, and there are tons more. I started with the Alexia Tarabotti seven and read every single one. I’d do it again, too. Her heroines make my heart go pitter-pat. With glee.

By Gail Carriger,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Etiquette & Espionage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.

Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners-and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might…

Cold Magic

By Kate Elliott,

Book cover of Cold Magic

Anise Eden Author Of Dead Sound

From the list on romances off the beaten path.

Who am I?

Maybe it's because I'm an Aquarius, or maybe it's because I ate crayons as a kid. But people who know me well can confirm that I'm an oddball who has never fit neatly into boxes or been easy to categorize. Perhaps that’s why I've always enjoyed reading books that defy rules, break barriers, and cross genres. As an author, while I love grounding my books in reality for maximum authenticity, my stories definitely color outside the lines (see earlier crayon reference). I love reading and writing about the unconventional and the unexpected. If you're looking for romances that will take you off the beaten path, this list is for you.

Anise's book list on romances off the beaten path

Discover why each book is one of Anise's favorite books.

Why did Anise love this book?

Nowhere have I seen Cold Magic categorized as a romance, but as a reader, my experience of the book (and the rest of the trilogy) was definitely centered around the epic love story. But that's what places this book in the "off the beaten path" category for me – it could sit on several different sections in a bookstore or library: science fiction, fantasy, Steampunk, mystery, action/adventure, romance, or all of the above! Books like this are a gourmet feast for the imagination, particularly when they're handled by a masterful writer and builder of worlds like Kate Elliott. If you love discovering new series that will delight and surprise you while entertaining all the different parts of your brain, you will love The Spiritwalker Trilogy.

By Kate Elliott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cold Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of the genre's finest writers comes a bold new epic fantasy in which science and magic are locked in a deadly struggle.

It is the dawn of a new age. . . The Industrial Revolution has begun, factories are springing up across the country, and new technologies are transforming in the cities. But the old ways do not die easy.

Cat and Bee are part of this revolution. Young women at college, learning of the science that will shape their future and ignorant of the magics that rule their families. But all of that will change when the…

Infernal Devices

By K.W. Jeter,

Book cover of Infernal Devices

Jeff Young Author Of Spirit Seeker: The Kassandra Leyden Adventures

From the list on paranormal steampunk in the gaslit world.

Who am I?

I find joy in niches and steampunk is not cut from the ordinary cloth. I was originally challenged to produce a story that incorporated magic into steampunk. The resulting character, Kassandra Leyden who can speak to the dead, brought to life an alternate history where a deadly plague made the British Empire emigrate to the Americas and begin anew. The style and fashion of steampunk in modifying the ordinary appeals to the maker in me. I am an avid renfaire attendee and create and sell garb, which now includes steampunk elements. I hope you enjoy these choices and discover what steampunk has to offer as a genre. 

Jeff's book list on paranormal steampunk in the gaslit world

Discover why each book is one of Jeff's favorite books.

Why did Jeff love this book?

The subtitle to the work, “a Mad Victorian Fantasy” goes a long way to explaining the style of Infernal Devices which follows George Dower inheritor of his father’s clockwork business. Dower bumbles where his father was a genius but that doesn’t stop him from getting involved with time travelers, automaton doppelgangers, and fish people selkies. A romp full of purple prose from one of the progenitors of the term “steampunk.”

By K.W. Jeter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Infernal Devices as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The classic Steampunk novel from the creator of the term itself - thirty years ago this month.

When George Dower's father died, he left George his watchmaker's shop - and more. But George has little talent for watches and other infernal devices. When someone tries to steal an old device from the premises, George finds himself embroiled in a mystery of time travel, music and sexual intrigue.

File Under: Steampunk