Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Secret of the Gilded Lady by Tara Keane (steampunk transgender)

Tara Keane is a creative goddess best known for her long-form, multi-part captions. She packs a lot of detail into her captions, telling complete stories with narrative and dialogue. Even her single-panel captions are packed with plot, so I was excited to see her step into the world of publishing with The Secret of the Gilded Lady: A Steampunk TG Adventure.

This was, in a word, marvelous.

It is a story that incorporates tropes and themes that will be as familiar to fans of TG fiction as TG captions, and that is part of its appeal. We can guess, early on, what has happened, which means the story becomes a journey to find out how it happened and why.

There are three areas where Keane distinguishes herself here. First, the steampunk theme and the airship setting are more than just window-dressing, it is incorporated into all aspects of the story. Take away the TG elements, and sci-fi fans would still have a fantastic steampunk adventure to enjoy. Second is the mystery I teased earlier, which is perfectly executed, keeping us on edge and drawing us deeper with every new development. Even after we learn the how and why of it all, there is still some tension to be explored, and Keane uses that to end on a high note. Last is the characters, all of whom feel vibrant and alive, especially those who have (ahem) changed. Bimbos in brothels is a familiar trope, but it is the personalities that make this so much fun.

As I closed the book, I found I wanted more - more of the Professor and his pre-bordello adventures, more of this world that Keane has created, more scenes behind closed doors, and more of what comes after. That is not a complaint, however, but a testament to how much I enjoyed this. Such a fun read and well worth checking out!

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