Jack the Ripper gave her his heart. Now he wants it back.

So goes the tagline for Ms. Dickson’s Gothic steampunk novel, featuring plucky heroine Ivy Savage and many historical figures of 1880s London, remade in Dickson’s singular vision. Cold Stone & Ivy is less Penny Dreadful than it is a paranormal thriller/mystery with Gothic touches.

The story follows the misadventures of Ms. Ivy Savage: daughter of a detective and a writer of mystery thrillers, who is at a crossroads of sorts. Her engagement to a handsome and kind medical scholar is everything a young woman should hope for, but Ivy cannot help but feel trepidation for her upcoming new life and end of her freedom. When she is unexpectedly caught up in a gruesome murder investigation, her world is flipped upside-down and her views of life and love become much more complicated than she initially figured.

The murders are courtesy of Jack the Ripper, of course. But this is not a Ripper tale. It definitely belongs to Ivy, who determinedly takes the reader along every twist and turn of the investigation while negotiating the tangle of being a woman in the Victorian age. Ivy makes for a strong and engaging central character because she is brave and resourceful, but at the same time makes mistakes and suffers from vulnerable moments. Bravo to Dickson for avoiding the ‘Mary Sue‘ archetype and creating a memorable character, flaws and all.

It took me a short while to become fully vested in the story. Not because of Dickson’s writing, of which I’m an enthusiastic fan of, but perhaps because steampunk has never held much interest for me. Fortunately the novel turned out to be much more than an average steampunk yarn. The characters were well-written enough to carry me along, and Dickson definitely knows how to spin a good story. Her use of language sounds authentic without being distracting or difficult to understand, and she throws in historical characters and events to create an alternate timeline that serves the story well. Things really picked up midway into the book, tying a lot of plot threads together as it raced to a climatic ending.

I enjoyed CS&I. The mystery is never what you think it is, until it is, and Dickson’s writing never gets boring. It’s an intriguing tale which incorporates a lot of what is loved about Gothic and steampunk, while remaining unique to the writer’s vision.


You can check out and purchase the novel here.



As always, my name is Bard Constantine, and if you’re reading this you already know that Bard Writes Books.