New Release Steampunk: The Nightmare Garden by Caitlin Kittredge


kittredge-nightmareSteampunk is rising on a hot burst of steam.

Everything is cyclical. That includes the publishing world. It is safe to say that change revolves constantly and so do the tastes of what people like to read. For many years, fantasy fans read primarily high and epic fantasy. Then urban fantasy struck readers with fangs. Then paranormal romance darkly swept readers off their feet.

That cycle is changing again and right now steampunk is riding a steam-powered train that grows in momentum every month.

It’s not new. Steampunk has been around for decades. It involves a setting where steam power is still widely used and that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. The Victorian-era Britain is a prime example of when steampunk is usually set. But it doesn’t always have to be. As author Caitlin Kittredge knows.

Caitlin is in the middle of writing a steampunk trilogy set in America. The first book, The Iron Thorn, was published last year. Today, its sequel, The Nightmare Garden, is released. The first book got great reviews from critics as well as readers, with Booklist . And now it’s sequel is published.

Here is a bit more about The Nightmare Garden:

Everything Aoife thought she knew about the world was a lie. There is no Necrovirus. And Aoife isn’t going to succumb to madness because of a latent strain—she will lose her faculties because she is allergic to iron. Aoife isn’t human. She is a changeling—half human and half from the land of Thorn. And time is running out for her.

When Aoife destroyed the Lovecraft engine she released the monsters from the Thorn Lands into the Iron Lands and now she must find a way to seal the gates and reverse the destruction she’s ravaged on the world that’s about to poison her.

Caitlin has managed to incorporate steampunk ideas alongside urban fantasy, creating a rich and imaginative world that readers of both sub-genres will greatly enjoy. To celebrate the release of The Nightmare Garden, I decided to throw a few questions at Caitlin.


Shawn Speakman: Hi Caitlin! Tell Unbound Worlds readers about about your new YA series, The Iron Codex, that begins with THE IRON THORN?

Caitlin Kittredge: The Iron Codex books are steampunk fantasy, based loosely on the Lovecraft Mythos. They follow Aoife Grayson, a girl who starts off the story thinking she’s ordinary and discovers that she’s anything but. When she leaves the safe confines of her steam-powered city to find and rescue her brother from malevolent fairies, she finds that her entire family is caught up in world-changing events that may usher in a new age of magic…or destroy the world entirely. That’s about all I can say without giving away massive spoilers to both books.

SS: THE NIGHTMARE GARDEN is the second book in the trilogy. Writers often have a hard time writing the second book of a three-book set, as it is the middle ground between the opening of the first book and the climax of the third book. Tell us what your experience was with it?

CK: I won’t lie–it was really difficult to keep all the plot threads weaving, make sure all the characters from the first book got page time and introduce the new elements I had planned for The Nightmare Garden. Second books are the hardest because you have to keep up the momentum of the first without giving too much away and leaving nothing for the third. I think I managed a good balance, but it was much harder to write than the first.

SS: How did you conceive of Aoife?

CK: I didn’t really set out to make her the heroine–she just showed up and started talking. I had never written a protagonist who relied on her wits more than her strength or her abilities, so she was really different and really fun to write. I enjoyed taking someone who by all rights should be vulnerable and making them a force to be reckoned with.

SS: Steampunk has been around for decades but is suddenly growing in prominence. What do you attribute this to? Readers wanting something different to read? Costuming? The genre itself?

CK: I think readers are searching for a genre that’s easy to immerse in, but offers endless depths and iterations, and steampunk is definitely that. You can dive right in to the conceits–alternate history, steam power, the costumes, all that–but you can spend years reading all the different interpretations of the genre, from KW Jeter to Cherie Priest to Scott Westerfeld and back to Michael Moorcock. There’s a lot more to it than goggles and Victorian England, and I think the possibilities offered are really appealing to readers of science fiction and fantasy who are searching for something new.

SS: Other than yourself, who should readers try in the steampunk genre? Who do you love to read?

CK: I mentioned Cherie Priest and Scott Westerfeld above, and they’re definitely worth checking out. A newer YA steampunk story is DEARLY, DEPARTED by Lia Hable–it’s post-apocalyptic steampunk, with zombies. I love that idea.

SS: What are you currently working on?

CK: A new adult urban fantasy series, and a new YA contemporary paranormal series. Plus a ton of edits to the third volume of the Iron Codex.

SS: I know you read a lot of comic books. What titles do you enjoy reading?

CK: I don’t read a great deal of monthly titles due to time, but most recently I’ve been picking up FATALE by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips…it’s a noir story with a twist of Lovecraft, but that’s really simplifying it too much…it’s simply fantastic, a meditation on the nature of storytelling as much as anything else. I highly recommend it.

SS: Thanks for your time, Caitlin!

CK: Thanks for having me, Shawn!

If you haven’t read The Iron Thorn, do so. It’s great. And if you have, The Nightmare Garden by Caitlin Kittredge is in fine bookstores today!

To learn more, visit Caitlin’s website at!