The Brass Queen by Elizabeth Chatsworth (review)

“For goodness sake, how hard can it be to murder a debutante?“

Elizabeth Chatsworth’s debut novel The Brass Queen is a delightfully engaging alternate Victorian history/Steampunk romance and adventure full of airships, gadgets, science, danger, a perilous polo match with deadly animals, a naughty yorkie named Boo, and it’s requisite share of royals behaving badly.

As the story opens, Constance Haltwhistle is on the hunt for a husband in order to save her familial estate, all while acting as the primary planner for a visit by the tyrannical Queen Victoria. Her debut ball is ruined by the kidnapping of three scientists in attendance – not a particularly auspicious introduction to the marriage mart. As an American secret agent steps in and fails to save the day, the adventures (and romance) of Constance – aka the Brass Queen, a weapons inventor/purveyor – and Agent J.F. Trusdale begin.

Constance Haltwhistle is quite the entitled young heiress/member of lesser nobility, and the Brass Queen is mostly just another persona more mentioned than seen. As her contentious acquaintance with J.F. grows slowly to attraction, some vulnerabilities do creep in, and Constance seems less of a trainwreck once the reader comes to know her a bit better.

Metaphors, similes, and cliches abound in The Brass Queen, with a main character that vacillates between likable and almost not, and everything does tend to be a bit much but considering it all together, this book is simply a hoot. Relentless is a word that applies both to the pace and to the characters, though the action is occasionally relieved by episodes of Constance being Constance in different locations. 

This is a comedic Steampunk Romantic Fantasy with a great deal of action that sometimes feels like everything is thrown in but the kitchen sink. Things do slide over into naughtiness a tad bit, with several instances of nudity – though mostly with characters who are invisible.

Maintaining a consistent level of humor and pace is a challenge admirably met by this debut author, and with the constant banter along with a peppy narrative, I felt compelled to read faster than my eye/brain coordination is accustomed to. To say this is a compulsive page-turner is an understatement. If you enjoy a frenetic, fluffy, fun, fast-paced read, this very well may be a book for you. I certainly enjoyed it.

The Brass Queen by Elizabeth Chatsworth | CamCat Books, January 2021 | Hardcover, 448 pages – also available in paperback or e-book form

I voluntarily received a finished hardcover copy from Smith Publicity. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book

She knows a liar when she sees one. He knows a fraud when he meets one. 

In a steam-powered world, Miss Constance Haltwhistle is the last in a line of blue-blooded rogues. Selling firearms under her alias, the “Brass Queen,” she has kept her baronial estate’s coffers full. But when US spy J. F. Trusdale saves her from assassins, she’s pulled into a search for a scientist with an invisibility serum. As royal foes create an invisible army to start a global war, Constance and Trusdale must learn to trust each other. If they don’t, the world as they know it will disappear before their eyes. 

If you like the Parasol Protectorate or the Invisible Library series, you’ll love this gaslamp fantasy—a rambunctious romantic romp that will have you both laughing out loud and wishing you owned all of Miss Haltwhistle’s armaments.

About the author

Elizabeth Chatsworth is a British author and actor based in Connecticut. She loves to write of rogues, rebels, and renegades across time and space.

Elizabeth is a Writers Of The Future winner, a Golden Heart® finalist, a Pitch Wars alumna, and a member of the SFWA. She’s the author of THE BRASS QUEEN (January 2021), an award-winning fantasy set in an alternate Victorian age.

When she’s not writing, Elizabeth works as a voice-over actor. There’s a rumor she possesses the world’s best scone recipe. Contact her at to see if it’s true!