Book Review: A Dream of Steam by James W. Barry

*I received a complimentary copy of this book, and I’m leaving a voluntary review*

This surprised me. It’s not my usual kind of read at all, but I was intrigued and wanted to read something new, so I picked up this historical fiction about two brother operating a sawmill in the late 1800’s.

The writing is superb, Barry is really good. Detailed, beautiful, engaging, without becoming boring or purple. I noticed right away that I was going to like this book. I like a book who can captivate me without droning on, without becoming overly descriptive.

The story fascinated me more than I would have thought. It’s the simple story of two brothers; Thomas and William, who own a transport ship; the Genevieve, and a sawmill respectively. They try to live their lives, earn their wages, but life gets in the way. The invention of the steam engine brings with it big changes to both industries, and it’s a costing affair to keep up with the times.  I was very surprised about how much this book managed to be about. It sounds simple, and it kind of is, but at the same time this book is about family, companionship, love, lies, deceit, murder, and money. All at the same time. It was very exciting – like I said, this isn’t my usual jam, I tend to lean toward thrillers, fantasy and sci-fi, but this was still right up my alley.

Barry has made an amazing effort here, in an incredibly well thought-out and written book of a seemingly simple story. Best thing of all? It’s all true.

Highly recommended for any historical fiction fan.

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