Book Review: The Hopewell Conspiracy: A Darkstar Steam Novel by Philip Morgan


The Hopewell Conspiracy: A Darkstar Steam Novel (The Judes Marlen Trilogy) 
by Philip Morgan

3 out of 5 Stars

The main character of this story is Judes, an old western gun-slinger type roaming the desert alone avoiding the alien poison that infects his entire world. Until fate intervenes and an air ship full of pirates crashes almost taking Judes with them. Judes manages to survive and make it to a town only to run into the same pirates. To escape, he uses the magic power embedded in a revolver he came across on his journeys. A bad choice, because it draws the attention of Darus Hopewell, a man bent on getting Judes magical gun any means necessary. Judes starts an adventure with a steam man to find out who Hopewell is and why he wants the gun only to stumble into a larger problem, a problem that affects Judes whole world and the ancient secrets of aliens that brought technology to a world of magic.

After I received a review request, I started reading the free sample of this book and was instantly interested. Right away the world in which Judes lives was brought to life and I was eager to explore it more. The writing was clean and well edited, in the beginning, and the kindle formatting was handled professionally in the free sample. You may have noticed I said in the beginning. As I read on, I started to encounter back story information dumps which served no purpose but to interrupt my story. I also came across large sections of description with no dialog or character interaction that, for me, slowed the story and made me want to skip those sections. They were well written, just too long for me. Some readers who enjoy a lot of description may love it. I'm a reader who only needs description of things that are important, the rest I can imagine for myself.

I also mentioned back story dumps. If the back story doesn't play into the plot or what the characters are currently doing, it's not needed. The worst one was a new chapter in the middle of interesting scenes explaining Judes past as an orphan. It came out of nowhere for no reason. His past was just told to me by an unknown person, or maybe Judes was dreaming it? That's the problem, I don't know for sure. The information didn't relate to anything going on and had no reason to be brought up. It's great that the author knew Judes back story and what drove the character, but the reader, at this point, didn't need to know. Maybe the author thought it would make Judes a more sympathetic character? Unfortunately it was handled poorly. There were many opportunities where Judes and Dotson could have had bonding moments and Judes could have told him about his past. It would have been more effective.

I really enjoyed the characters and their personalities, especially Judes and Dotson. The chief of the tribe with his available daughters was entertaining as well. I hated leaving Judes or Dotson's point of views because the other characters weren't as interesting and tended to have back story dumps and sections of unnecessary telling. I'd love to see this get cleaned up.

The plot of this novel and the world have a lot of potential. It needs a professional content editor to go through and fix some areas and come up with better ways to handle the back story. The book is a part of a trilogy and I hope the author continues with it. I really like the mixed genre world, aliens, elves, and magic mixed together with steam punk.

Despite the back story issues, I recommend giving this book a read. It's a very interesting world with interesting characters. It has a conclusion of sorts, but not a full arch. You will need to read on to reach a grand conclusion. The Hopewell Conspiracy is worth a read.

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