The book's description from the publisher:
As the nineteenth century draws to a close, James Weston, Earl of Falmouth, is dying along with it. Despite living in an age of airships and automatons, even London's finest physicians cannot cure the young man's ailing heart. His last hope lies in retrieving a powerful artifact from the remote island home of an eccentric scientist's daughter.
Elspeth Shaw prefers her solitary life to the tragic results that come from mixing in society. Elspeth is cursed: every mortal being who forms an attachment to her dies a horrible death. Yet when the doomed Lord Falmouth arrives in search of the very artifact that blights her, she hasn't the will to refuse. But the price for cheating death may be more than any human can pay...
Despite my slight misgivings about Heart of Perdition being a novella (which I didn't know at the time of requesting this title), I was surprised to actually like this story. Thankfully, there aren't many characters introduced in here and therefore, it's easier to for a reader to fully acquaint her/himself with the ones that are. Also there is only one plotline, which works nicely in the format Ms. March chose to write her first piece. Since I'm not an expert on novellas and short fiction, I can't fully judge how well or not was Heart of Perdition written to fit this format. From a personal standpoint, it worked for me to like it but it's also the reason why I gave it three stars, instead of four. I prefer to read rather longish novels in which I can truly lose myself for days on end and it wasn't really possible with this story where things ended before they truly even begun. Not that there wasn't any action happening.
Heart of Perdition is a combination of genres: steampunk, romance and horror. I enjoyed it the most of all the sides to this novella. Steampunk is a fairly new genre for me but I appreciated how it made the background of the world James and Elspeth lived in that much more fun. I suppose it's given an old Gothic tale a new twist. Heart of Perdition did seem to me to be an atmospheric, strange tale reminiscent of the Gothic tradition and especially of The Picture of Dorian Gray. And before anyone cries 'foul!', I am in no way comparing the two or putting them in the same category. I'm merely saying that Ms. March's debut has some elements (including the effects of the artifact) that can be traced back to the Oscar Wilde's classic.
If you're up for some fun read that's quick, with a dose of chill and a pinch of romance, I think Heart of Perdition is something you should look into. It's not badly written at all and the tale doesn't end here either because the author is already working on part two. As a matter of fact, the story is intriguing enough and the writing is promising enough for me, that I wish it were a full length novel and I hope that Selah March will one day make a transition into the novel category.
FTC: I received this ebook galley from the publisher, Carina Press via NetGalley.