Chasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak

February 6th, 2014 Kimberly Review 88 Comments

6th Feb
Chasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak
Chasing the Star Garden
by Melanie Karsak
Series: The Airship Racing Chronicles #1
Genres: Steampunk
Source: Author
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

An opium-addicted beauty. An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile. An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands. Melanie Karsak's Chasing the Star Garden takes readers on a thrilling adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem-colored waters of the ancient world. Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and shattered past, reluctantly plunges into a centuries-old mystery in a romantic adventure best described as Dan Brown meets Mary Shelley. It all begins on one of the worst days of Lily’s life. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium. Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way.

In 2013, I participated in a tour and reviewed the Harvesting by new author Melanie Karsak. It was a zombie, post-apocalyptic tale that also blended in fantasy elements. The world-building and story left me in awe. So I was delighted to receive a new book from Karsak entitled Chasing the Star Garden. The first in the Airship Racing Chronicles, Chasing the Star Garden, is a steampunk fantasy featuring an opium eating heroine and an ancient treasure linked to the Greek Gods. Mini review: A thrilling adventure that is imaginative, and enthralling.

We meet Lily Stargazer and her airship team as they fly over London in an epic race against other airships during the last leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. Sadly, they take second place, but on the platform a strange man fleeing the police runs up to her and shoves of all things a kaleidoscope down her pants and whispers, “fly to Venice” and then propels himself over the side of the platform to meet his untimely death. Now people are looking for the kaleidoscope and Lily is about to begin an epic adventure. Along the way, she will face her fears, and discover something about her past. My friends hold on because it is quite the ride.

Lily Stargazer is unique and unlikely heroine. She has moxy and is one heck of a pilot but the girl has some serious issues. To dull the pain of nightmares she has turned to a popular drugs of this time period; opium and absinthe. It has a hold on her and at one point I found myself concerned about her bathing habits of all things. Karsak did an amazing job with her as a character. I was on the fence about Lily in the beginning as the author exposed the weaker side of our heroine. But, then she peeled back Lily’s layers, revealing her kick-ass side, her spirit and her fierce loyalty. You cannot help but like Lily, and I became her champion. Lily sees tremendous growth throughout the novel, and it added an incredible depth to an already splendid tale. Lord Byron (yes thee Lord Byron ) is Lily’s sponsor for the airship races and her lover which was all quite interesting. There is also a tinkerer named Sal who lily enjoys romps with. Sal is handsome, soft-spoken and intelligent.  I came to adore this tall dark and handsome Greek. Secondary characters and those from Lily’s past added depth, humor and even horror to the tale.

Chasing the Star Garden was a captivating tale from the complex characters to the breathtaking world-building. Karsak’s writing has a flow and ease to it that allows the reader to slip into the worlds she creates. She made the steampunk elements of the tale spring to life as we flew from London to Venice. She threads mythology into the mysterious adventure of the kaleidoscope and cleverly wove our heroine’s past into the details. The blurb on the back of the book says, “Dan Brown meets Mary Shelley” and I think that is an apt description. As the author peels back Lily’s layers we see flashbacks to Lily’s childhood and every time Lily went back I was both horrified and captivated. These were done seamlessly and only strengthened my feelings for Lily. There is a romance that is intertwined with the tale that felt genuine. The tale has dark moments from the dark opium dens to passions which the author realistically portrayed from the character’s experience to the den’s themselves. The ending wrapped things up nicely, and I look forward to the next adventure.

Chasing the Star Garden was a brilliant steampunk adventure with colorful characters leaving me once again awestruck by Melanie Karsak’s incredible talent for story-telling. The next book Chasing the Green Fairy is set to release in March of 2014.

About Melanie Karsak

Melanie Karsak is the author of the Amazon best-selling steampunk series The Airship Racing Chronicles (Chasing the Star Garden and Chasing the Green Fairy) and the award-winning horror/dark fantasy Harvesting Series. She grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania and earned a Master’s degree in English from Gannon University. A steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and zombie whisperer, the author currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.

Photo of kimbacaffeinate
About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw and Howler. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Find @kimbacaffeinate on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Stay Caffeinated!

Never miss a post by adding Caffeinated to your Inbox

Your email is not shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

88 Responses to “Chasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak”

  1. Kay

    I’ve never really read steampunk before, at least not on purpose, if that makes any sense. Anyway, this book sounds really original and I think I’m going to give it a try. Not to mention the cover is amazing! Great review as always!

  2. Michele

    This really does sound like quite the ride — mesmerizing and heartbreaking at the same time. This is a lovely review, Kimba; and I’m definitely intrigued with this book. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      You are just all over my blog this morning, and this was so well done. I cannot wait for book two

  3. Tabitha the Pabkins

    So a druggy huh? But then I find most junkies have to have a lot of moxy to be a druggy. Which eventually the drugs steal from you but eh.

    I will definitely have to pick this one up I love the sound of it and plus that cover…you know I’m salivating for it.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      hmm, more damaged soul trying to dull the pain and then comes in to her own

  4. Jennifer

    I have not heard of this author, but holy cow this sounds pretty awesome! I checked to see if my library has a copy and IT DOES! Now I am really excited! This sounds so great! =)

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Enjoy Jennifer and I am excited I could introduce you to Karsak 🙂

  5. Jess

    I really like the cover and the story sounds so unique. I am definitely curious about this one and have marked it on my list. I look forward to getting to know Lily. Definitely different than anything I have read before. 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Enjoy Jess, I look forward to hearing what you think of Lily 🙂

  6. Sherrey Meyer

    Admitting here in public that I’ve never read a steampunk. You’ve made this sound like a good one for my first read. Agree?

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It is an excellent first read and I would love to see what you think.

  7. Lily B

    I love a good steampunk book. This sound so fun, creative and imaginary. I hope to read it myself 😀

  8. Ginny

    Yay! So glad you liked this one. This is one that I was worried about at the very beginning (the opium den’s) but quickly fell into the story and loved it. Melanie definitely has a gift for bringing the book to life.

  9. melliane

    wow I didn’t know this one but I fell in love with the cover. It sounds like something a little different and it’s always interesting to discover new books like that. thanks!

  10. Lauren

    It’s been too long since I read a good steampunk and I may as well read one that comes so highly recommended by you! Lily Stargazer sounds like an amazing heroine, and I love her name! Great review 🙂

  11. laura thomas

    I have this in my kindle and did a post for a tour last year. I’m looking forward to reading it and your review and rating are encouraging. I’ve read The Harvesting and loved it.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am so glad you liked the Harvesting and think you will appreciate Karsak interpretation of Steampunk 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I enjoyed this one Melissa and those are my key words too 🙂

  12. Candace

    I read the first half of this and I don’t know if it’s just my mood or what the deal is, but I just really struggled with it. I picked it up again later and struggled through a little bit more. I know that there’s a lot of good there so I’m not sure if it’s just not my thing, or if my mood just hasn’t fit the book. I’m glad you really enjoyed it!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am really sorry to hear that Candace, sometimes that happens to me or maybe it just wasn’t a good fit. Thanks sweetie 🙂

  13. Heidi

    Oh this does sound delightful. The main character sounds terrific. I am always up for a great steampunk adventure so I will add this to the old TBR.

  14. Melissa (Books and Things)

    I have to admit, the Dan Brown part puts me off, but I do like the sound of the worldbuilding in this book. I also love steampunk so I do think this one is for me. Oh and that cover. Stop finding me more books! 😉

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Oh I love Dan Brown but this only compared to the adventure aspect

  15. Pamela D

    I haven’t read very many steampunk books, but I do love that type of world. This sounds like a fantastic new series. It is so cool that you have been able to see this author grow through her books. 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      thanks Pamela, and I love that she can jump genres and do it so well.

  16. kara-karina

    I just finished it today! 🙂 Totally agree with you, K. Although I secretly wanted more of Byron. Hope he gets his own happy ending (despite historical accuracy) 🙂

  17. Adriana

    Honestly, I can’t get over “shoves of all things a kaleidoscope down her pants…” It’s extremely distracting. Lily sounds like she is awesome and the adventure in the story sounds the same way but this books feels really weird. I’m glad you enjoyed it nonetheless.

  18. Pam (

    Sounds good! Have you read the Downside Series by Stacia Kane? The heroine is also a drug addict, but you can’t help but route for her as well. Great review!

    ~Pam @ Moonlight Reader

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Pam the author sounded familiar and sure enough I have book one and two of that series on my Nook and bumped them up the list 🙂

  19. Lark

    The plot sounds really interesting, but drug use by a protagonist is one of my triggers. I just can’t go there; it bothers me too much. (It bothers me in the Sherlock Holmes stories, but luckily it isn’t in all of them.) I’m glad you enjoyed the book, though!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      While it defines her in the beginning, like Sherlock she finds a greater not let that hold you back. Like Sherlock you will understand Lily.

  20. Lupdilup

    You’re killing me Kimba! LOL I just grabbed the Kindle version…LOL It was priced right. I’ll give some time for the audio, and maybe a whipersync deal 😉
    Thanks for reviewing!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      *dances* Yes! I am so glad you grabbed it and hopefully it goes to audio soon 🙂

  21. aurian

    Great review Kimba, adding this to my wishlist. I am reading a steampunk novel now, and really enjoying it.

  22. sherry fundin

    Your review makes me want to run right out and buy the book. I will have to check my Kindle first, though. I have read The Harvesting and loved it, so I may have already picked this up.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yay I am so glad you loved Harvesting too, and I think this is priced sweetly for kindle 🙂

  23. Jenni

    It’s so great that this book worked just as well for you as the book you had previously read by this author. The heroine here sounds fantastic. Not sure it’s a book that would entice me but I am happy to see that it worked so well for you! Great review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I loved how complex Lily was and good or bad she faced who and what she was. Thanks for commenting:)

  24. Tammy

    Wow, I’ve never heard of this author, but your enthusiasm is catching! I love steampunk and I love that the heroine has issues. Awesome review, onto the pile it goes!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      So glad you added it Tammy, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and I am excited I could introduce you 🙂

  25. Toni

    I loved this one! Glad to see you did as well. Melanie is definitely a talented storyteller!

  26. Jenny

    This isn’t something I would normally pick up, but your review has me more than a little intrigued. I love a book that has dark moments intermingled with romantic moments and moments full of adventure, so I think I would enjoy this one. Plus, that cover is gorgeous!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      You like fantasy, and historical so this would be a good one for you to try.

  27. Christine

    I’ve never read any steampunk books, but this one sounds so good, I just may need to branch out. (And the cover is gorgeous!)

    • kimbacaffeinate

      What?!? I would have thought with the genre of books you read that you would have tried some..eep. Branch. Out. That. Is. All.

  28. Victoria (aka Zemfirka)

    Great review Kim! Glad you finally had a chance to read this one – I enjoyed it myself. 🙂

    I also very much liked Lily, even though she wasn’t perfect from the beginning and had lots of problems of her own. Looking forward to Chasing the Green Fairy next! 😉

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Agreed, and we don’t have long to wait for Chasing Green Fairy!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I agree i t is well done..ooh and yes I would love a poster too!

  29. Nick

    This has such a lovely cover, Kim and the idea seems so unique. I haven’t read many steampunk novels, but this seems like a lot of fun. Plus, I love the sound the main character. She seems unusual.
    Great review, Kim!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      She was and honestly I can see you hated her in the beginning but trust me stick around there is tremendous growth and she feels genuine.

  30. Jenea

    I think this has a fantastic cover! I like that there is steampunk and mythology together, definitely curious to read this one. Great review Kimba!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I do too Jenea, and thread regarding Mythology was an interesting one 🙂

  31. Mary

    Wow, this sounds really amazing! I do enjoy steampunk, when it’s done right, and Lily seems like a troubled yet fantastic MC (my favorite kind). I’m going to have to check this out.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I can see you enjoying this Mary, and yes Lily was complicated and spunky..I enjoyed her 🙂

  32. Jan

    This sounds like a very good book. I bought it a few weeks ago so I will move it higher on my TBR books to read! Thanks for a very good review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This felt authentic and I loved the suspense and characters.

  33. Michelle

    Yay, I think I own this one! I grabbed it on a whim so I’m glad to see that it turned out to be a great read! There are so many things mentioned that I’m in love with: world building, complex characters and mythology are all huge attractions for me.