Lost tribe tales set in the modern day fell out of fashion shortly after the last few corners of the map were filled in by intrepid explorers. The extra challenge of squeezing a bit of mystery into our digitized and sanitized world thwarts many a good adventure tale. Harold R. Thompson’ neatly sidesteps the issue by creating a new steam-age world in which a scientist and her guide attempt to recover the seeds of a possibly magical demon tree. It might rightly be considered a steampunk tale, but it feels so much like our own world that it’s easy to forget the place names aren’t from around here.
Once again Cirsova presents a compact quest, and this time adds a dash of truly dark and alien menace. Squint your eyes a bit, and you’re reading an Indiana Jones story, complete with two-fisted action, native death cults, Daddy issues, and a bit of surprise occult activity.
A solid entry overall, my personal preference would have been to go full historical. The hints that this Dreaming Tree exists in our own world, that the events might just be autobiographical, would have added a bit more impact to the story.