Reviews and Recommendations

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What readers are saying

“A captivating combination of adventure, heart, and hijinks! As with all my favorite books, I didn’t want Fortitude to end.”

Angela Dorsey, Novelist


“Fortitude is an atmospheric tale that pulls you in and takes you on a thrilling adventure. Exploring issues of ethics, science, loyalty and love, this genre-bending novel both entertains and asks the reader to rethink old assumptions. You can’t help but fall in love with the characters as they wind their way through this fascinating world on dirigibles and hovercars.”

Cynthia Morris, Author, Chasing Sylvia Beach


“This storyline ticked along at a terrific pace with a tight plot, strong characters, female heroes who certainly pass the Bechdel test, and a surprising end. Without giving away critical plot lines, this multi-threaded story was effectively unified in the overarching theme of science and its ethics.”

James Balian, Writer/Producer/Director, Collaborations Theatre Group


“You might not expect a recipe of fantasy, sci-fi, romance, steampunk and horror to come out all that good, but Bayly has proved herself an expert literary chef with Fortitude. The genres blend together easily and the pages turn quickly.”

Pete Malicki, Author and Playwright


“A steampunk adventure full of daring heroes, this novel is made even stronger by the fact that most of the heroes are women.

The world building is delicious. In the best steampunk tradition, the machines leap from the page, massive and shiny. I loved the individuality of the different machines, how they were rich and well-developed, silver and gold. The world around those machines is fascinating. The characters live in the world, they experience it as though it has always existed for them, so as a reader I lived in the world too.

Better even than the worldbuilding are the vivid characters. The brilliant sisters, Artemis and Parthena, are very different women but equally bold and delightful. I particularly loved Parthena who is fearless and brilliant, awkward and delicate at once. But then I loved Artemis’ pragmatism and ferocity and her huge heart. The characters around them are distinctive and intriguing. Each of them has strengths and weaknesses. Despite the characters and situations being fantastic, they all feel human.

I loved the omniscient storytelling, and felt I was part of every character's thinking which brought me close to each of them.

The romantic storylines are charming. I particularly loved that there is a very sweet queer romance between two amazing women.

I rollicked along with this book, I cared about the characters, I enjoyed the adventure. I loved that the world itself throws up moral questions for the characters. And I loved how the characters dealt with those questions and with their own fears and hopes while they were saving the world. Highly recommended, the book is full of shiny machines, daring women and exhilarating adventure.”

Pene Henson, Author, Into The Blue, Storm Season


“This inventive tale, an eclectic blend of science fiction, fantasy and steampunk, takes place in 1901, in the city of New Londinium. Dirigibles float through the air, and citizens travel through the streets of the city by hover machine, steam carriage or steam ​cab. The Council of Danaeus, a collective of highly-regarded scientists, seek to improve society through their inventions, especially those which make use of renewable and clean power.  One of their most lauded designs is the Ripley Perpetual Steam Engine, invented by Doctor Parthena Ripley.

The redoubtable Parthena and her younger sister Artemis charmed me from the start of the tale: both are strong independent women who remain loyal to each other, without a whiff of sibling rivalry. When Parthena, who captivates everyone she meets, dallies with the heart of young Viola, Artemis is there with sage advice and fond concern. Parthena lends support to her sister in equal measure.

When Viola discovers that her brother has been the subject of an inhumane experiment, the novel moves into darker territory. Greed threatens to triumph over good and the tension ramps up, especially in the second half of the story. While the story mostly plays out within the realm of science fantasy, the novel is infused with the aesthetics of steampunk, aided by Karen Bayly’s precise turns of phrase, attention to detail, and aptitude for droll witticisms. An admirable debut.”

Elizabeth Foster, Author

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