ISIS UNBOUND by HWA Member Allyson Bird
Author: Allyson Bird
Inspired in part by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, and the works of Rider Haggard and R. E. Howard, Isis Unbound is set in an alternate history, steampunk version of 1890’s Manceastre, Britanniae, ruled by a new governor general related to a descendant of Anthony and Cleopatra, who won the battle of Actium two thousand years ago, and where the ancient Egyptian gods are real.
Only a god can kill a god. Nepythys has killed her sister, Isis, and therefore the dead cannot pass over to the underworld–their ranks are rapidly swelling and they now roam the streets as zombies. Chief Embalmer Ptolemy Child’s two daughters, Ella and Loli, aged eighteen and ten respectively, are being instructed in the secrets of the mummification process, when the dead begin to wake and walk. And eventually lead the sisters to the greatest mystery of all: Isis, herself…
Generations ago, Cleopatra, with the blessing of Isis and Anthony at her side, started an empire. Her descendants still rule, but the goddess Isis has fallen silent, and there are those who fear her favor has been lost and the empire is falling apart. It is not that Isis has forgotten her empire, but she has been killed by her sister, the goddess Nepythys. Now the dead cannot pass over and stumble restless and frightened through a city already oppressed by plague and tyranny. The Chief Embalmer’s daughters, Ella and Loli, get involved in the machinations of the gods themselves as the fate of an empire is decided. VERDICT Set in a declining Egyptian empire dusted with the familiar technological and scientific trappings of a steampunk setting, this debut novel by British Fantasy Award winner Bird (Bull Running for Girls) is a frightening, gorgeous book that breathes something fascinating and new into the genre. It will appeal to avid readers of steampunk as well as horror fans. —April Steenburgh, George F. Johnson Memorial Lib., Endwell NY; from US Library Journal