Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart

“Jack et la Mécanique du Coeur” (original title)

Creator: Mathias Malzieu (original novella/composer of all music through his band Dionysos/voice of Jack in the original French tracks)

Media Type: Feature Film, 94 minutes

Audience: Tween to Adult (regardless of what Netflix says).

Note: there isn’t any gore/violence/overt sex that typically warrants a tweens and up suggestion.  And yes, it is a musical, but not a Disney musical with fully orchestrated sing-alongs. Instead this CG film is very surreal and moves very quickly with operatic styled music, which would likely lead it to bore most small children.


On the coldest day in history, on the edge of Edinburgh a young woman is desperate to make it to the midwife in time to give birth to her son. The time in the cold, though, has taken it’s toll and the boy is born with a heart made of ice. The midwife (a doctor/inventor named Madeleine who is rumored to be a witch) quickly replaces this ineffective heart with a cuckoo-clock and tells the baby that there are three rules he must follow to keep his cuckoo-heart running:

  1. Never touch the hands of your heart
  2. Keep your temper under control
  3. Never, ever, fall in love.

Jack lives for ten uneventful years safely cooped up in the home he shares with Madeleine and several of her eccentric friends. For his tenth birthday he begs his adoptive mother to let him visit town, which he has never been allowed to do before. She agrees but implores him to abide by his three rules.

He doesn’t.

Instead he falls in love with a beautiful Spanish girl he hears singing at a fountain and decides he must chase the girl of his dreams all the way across Europe. But as time goes by, he begins to worry. Will she remember him? Will she love him the way he loves her? And if she does, can his fragile heart take it?

The Good:

  • This is an incredible film from a visual standpoint. The graphics are fabulously detailed and keep your attention throughout the film.
  • The steampunk elements are frequent (locomotives with bellows segments and horseless carriages to name a few) and intelligently used.
  • The music is emotionally resonant and unique; a breath of fresh air into the musical genre.

The Bad:

  • Tragically, this film suffers from terrible translation issues. The dialog is rushed and doesn’t allow you any time to reflect on what’s said before three more lines are spoken. The US Netflix version is only available in English, but if you can I suggest watching it in the original French with subtitles.
  • It’s weird.
    • Normally this isn’t a negative, but the surreal nature of the film made it sometimes hard to follow. For instance, Jack the Ripper makes an appearance during a traveling song, and it’s not explained or ever brought up again.


Remember this video I posted a few weeks ago?

It’s the single from the Dionysos album called La Mécanique du Cœur was composed and recorded to accompany the novella which the film is adapted from. The above music video was created by the director of the film and in a similar (though not identical) style.

Learn more about The Novella

Learn more about The Album

Learn more about The Film

Also instead of a trailer, below is a clip from the film. This is where Jack meets Miss Acacia. It gives a great taste for the films music and style. 

et en Français:

Let me know what you think of the movie in the comments or via Twitter @SteamLib.

Steam Themed Halloween pt2

Who can live with just one Halloween post? In honor of the best (if not best, at least most colorful) holiday here are more ideas for brining steam into your Halloween plans and a review of the Gail Carriger short story The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar (part of the Parasol Protectorate series).

Don’t forget to share your own Halloween costumes and concepts at submissions@steampunklibrary.net and via Twitter @SteamLib.

Music playlists are a staple of every party no matter where it’s hosted. While the classics like “Ghostbusters” and “Werewolves of London” will always hold a place in our hearts it never hurts to add some new pieces into the mix. I put together a small list highlighting some of my favorites from steampunk bands and pop-musicians:

Other suggestions include Abney Park, The Clockwork Dolls, Professor Elemental, and Jonathan Coulton.

Is your library in an area that hosts a large cosplay community?

Image: the librarian as a steampunk gender-bent Sherlock Holmes
Your Librarian as Sherlock Holmes circa 2012

Invite local groups to come and show off their costumes on Halloween and maybe do a Q&A on costume creation. If you’re lucky enough to live near a convention (you can check the Airship Ambassador Convention Listing ). You also might be able to find local artisans/crafts people who would be interesting in coming with some of their steampunk works (tiny hats, gloves, jewelry) to display and sell last-minute costume pieces.

Who doesn’t love coloring?

Image of my personal copy of Brian Kessinger's Coloring With Your Octopus
The best birthday present from The Boyfriend (aka The Project’s IT guy)

Artist Brian Kesinger (author of Walking Your Octopus) has a matching coloring book out now! You can find Coloring With Your Octopus at Amazon and Barnes&Noble. Pages can be distributed throughout October in the Children’s (and Teen, and Adult) sections to bring some steampunk whimsy to your tables. There’s also the Steampunk Coloring and Activity Book, the Creative Haven Steampunk Designs Coloring Book, and the option to make your own coloring pages off of Google or with the help of a crafty coworker. These are great for having out the whole month and at the kid’s table at events.

Last but not least a review of a Gail Carriger Parasol Protectorate story, my recommendation for a quick read for book groups or to curl up with while you binge on candy.

Title: The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar: An Alessandro Tarabotti Story
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate side story

Age/Audience: Teen/Adult

Genre/Style: Adventure, Short Story

Read If You Like: The Parasol Protectorate series, mysteries,


Ever wonder where Alexia got her sass? Search no further: in this short story originally published in the “Book of the Dead” anthology edited by Jared Smith we get our first full glimpse of Alexia’s father, the adventuring Alessandro Tarabotti.

When the Templars need a job done then expect it to be done quickly, discretely, and completely. When Mr. Tarabotti arrives in Egypt he knows these expectations and with the assistance of his trusted valet (and to the only level Mr. Tarabotti seems about to attempt, his friend) Mr. Floote he hopes to carry out his mission regarding a man and a mummy. However when an embalmed cat, an old ‘yoo-hoo’-ing acquaintance from England, and a blushing young Leticia Phinkerlington appear, things get unexpectedly complicated.

Bottom Line:

Great for a little read while waiting for trick-or-treaters.

Find It:

The Curious Case on Amazon

The Curious Case on Goodreads

Steam Themed Halloween

Halloween is my favorite time of year: crunchy leaves, pumpkin everything, costumes, make-up, parties, and of course the annual revival of “Hocus Pocus”. This post is all about bringing steampunk into your library (or home, or community center) for Halloween. Some ideas are wholly steam-themed while others are ways to add some Victorian flair to any Halloween program.
Have your own favorite program for Halloween, or pictures from a successful event? Have it hosted on the site by sending it to submissions@steampunklibrary.net. You can also share pictures of events, costumes, and more with us on Twitter @SteamLib.

Program Type: Film Series/Book Group
Audience: 13+
Time Frame: Varies
Space Needed: Film viewing room, book group meeting room
Budget Considerations:
• Film showing rights, if applicable
• Custodial for rooms
• Popcorn/snacks for movie nights
When you think of monsters who comes to mind? Frankenstein? Dracula? The Victorian monsters became the staple of the silver screen for a reason: their stories are equal parts terror and intrigue. Since there are so many film options now the monsters make themselves an easy pick for a mini-film festival. The festival can be stand-alone, or tied in to other programs, like a book group. The original story behind the films are very short (Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Invisible Man, The Portrait of Dorian Grey) which are well suited for teen readers. For adults Frankenstein, Dracula, or a Jack the Ripper novel lend themselves to longer book group discussions. The film showings are a great way to stir up interest and advertise the book groups to an audience with a noted interest.

Program: Steam-Themed Family Masquerade
Audience: Family
Time Frame: 2 hours
Space Needed: Open floor space for dancing, tables for snacks, and tables for crafts
Budget Considerations:
• Custodial services
• Food (finger munchies and candy)
• Craft supplies (felt, glue, craft sticks, glitter, small paper hats, white and black fabric masks, etc)
For a family-friendly Halloween event host a masquerade! Invite community members to come in costume and read scary stories, share treats, dance a little, and give their kids a reason to put on their costume again. Starting just before the event and running throughout allow guests to make their own party mask. This is easily made steam-y by providing gears, gold glitter, small Lego octopus creatures, and lace to adorn the DIY masks. Costume contest categories can also be made steam by having a category for Victorian Monsters or book characters.
P.S. The library blog Ms Kelly at the Library has great Halloween party games for kids

Looking for a grown-ups only party? Easily make the masquerade into a Victorian Murder Mystery night! Have your guests dress in their best steampunk attire (help them feel inspired to start a custom costume project) There are dozens of sites with downloadable party templates and ideas and some include hosting tips. These party templates can then be altered to have The Parasol Protectorate’s dashing Lord Akeldama as man of the hour, or Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker Machine as a murder weapon.
Don’t forget to include all your steampunk favorites into your Halloween book displays and bulletin boards! What better to bring fear into a reader’s heart than a mad scientist, a sea monster, or a vampire with an impeccably perfect cravat? Inspire Victorian costume by highlighting fashion histories, DIY sewing/craft books, and the colorful covers of YA steampunk in your collection. Steampunk art books also liven up a display and show the genre in it’s best season.

Wild, Wild West

Creator: Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, Staring Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, and Salma Hayek

Media Type: Feature Film, 106 minutes

Audience: Family



When the American Civil War came to an end, the nation was teeming with gunslingers, saloons, and angry defeated confederate soldiers. One soldier, Arliss Loveless, refuses to accept the new order of the US and begins building a heavily weaponized machines. His machines, based partially on the design for his own steam-powered wheelchair, are the support for his plan to force US president Ulysses S Grant to divide the states once again. Set to stop him are an unwilling pair: gunslinger Capt James West and US Marshal Gordon. The two are facing an uphill battle again ex-Confederate troops as Capt West struggles to maintain authority as a black officer in the prejudiced South and the steam-hydrolic technologies may just be more than the pair can handle. Assisted by Rita, the daughter of one of Loveless’ engineers, will the US be able to maintain its rebuilt unity? Or will the Transcontinental Railroad be a failed attempt at cohesion, leading to all out war?


Bottom Line: A little corny but a lot of fun WWW offers an American spin on steampunk. Filled to the brim with weapons, flying machines, and the iconic Spider this film offers a chance to sit back with the family and laugh while appreciating the American corset style for a change.


Read More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Wild_West

Find It: http://www.worldcat.org/title/wild-wild-west/oclc/527853299

Murdoch Mysteries

Creator: Books by Maureen Jennings, TV Series produced for the CBC staring Yannik Bisson

Tags: Adult, Teen, TV

Media Type: Television Series, Hour long episodes

Audience: 13+


A regular season murder mystery set in late Victorian Toronto, Murdoch is CSI with period costume. Not one to take the easy answer, Detective William Murdoch uses the latest in forensic science (ie finger marks, rudimentary ballistics and blood spatter analysis) to solve the most difficult crimes in the city. To aid him are his fellow members of the Toronto Constabulary (including the hot tempered York-man Inspector Thomas Brackenreid and the clever, though unusual Constable George Crabtree) and the medical examiner Dr Julia Ogden. Murdoch blends realistic period forensics with steampunk flair through his inventions – some of which are accidental. Murdoch theorizes the future of television, the microwave, digital pictures, and creates basic models of many of his inventions. For added fun, historic guest stars like Nicola Tesla, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and H.G. Wells often make an appearance.

Bottom Line:

A witty weekly mystery with lovable characters, fantastic costuming that’s historically accurate, and just enough drama to keep you coming back week after week without wearing you out. Overall, a great idea that’s well executed AND is in its 6th season so there are plenty of episodes to marathon watch.

Find It:

In Canada: Episodes online via the CBC, http://www.cbc.ca/murdochmysteries/

In the States: Seasons 1-3 on Netflix, 1-5 on DVD or via Amazon Prime.

The Leaue of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Creator: Directed by Stephen Norrington , Staring Sean Connery

Tags: Adult, Teen, movies

Media Type: Feature Film, 110 minutes

Audience: Rated PG-13


The Who’s Who of Victorian monsters come out to play in this big screen adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel. Mina Harker turned vampire, the Invisible Man, Dr Jekyl, and the immortal Dorian Gray come together with Allen Quartermain, Captain Nemo, and Tom Sawyer to try and stop the mysterious “Fantom” who is trying to start an international arms race. However, there is a traitor in their midst. The Fantom doesn’t want to create normal bombs and tanks, he wants to create superhuman weapons and copy Nemo’s advanced technologies. The team must race against time, and each other, to stop the Fantom from succeeding.

LXG is far from a cinematic marvel, with weak acting and lacking storyline, but it does look amazing. It’s a chance to see characters interact who never would, see true steam punk style technology and costumes, and consider how many Victorian monsters lived after “The End” (if you ignore the fact many die in their original books).


Bottom Line: Eye candy, nothing more.

Find It: https://www.worldcat.org/title/league-of-extraordinary-gentlemen/oclc/53041880&referer=brief_results

Van Helsing

Creator: Directed by Stephen Sommers, Starring Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale

Tags: adult, teens, movies

Media Type: Feature Film, 131 minutes

Audience: Rated PG-13



Meet Van Helsing, the Catholic Church’s bounty hunter for all things mythical and otherworldly. When the Church needs someone to deal with a vampire infestation in northern Transylvania Van Helsing and his friar assistant Carl are sent on the job. There they meet Anna Valerious and her brother – the last two in an ill fated family line. The Valerious founder made a promise to God, than none of his line would enter heaven until they had killed the worst of all vampires: Dracula. As the end of their family line, Anna desperately seeks Dracula’s fortress to save the souls of her family. With Van Helsing’s help they fight werewolves, Dracula’s brides, and try to stop his dastardly plan… as soon as they find out what it is.

The main steam elements in the movie are the weapons like Van Helsing’s mechanized, revolver style crossbow and the clothes; Anna’s costumes offer a colorful alternative to wearing a bustle. The high-Victorian pseudo-science re-imagining of Frankenstein’s Monster is also very steampunk.



Bottom Line: A little cheesy, but a lot of fun with great weapons and costumes.

Find It: https://www.worldcat.org/title/van-helsing/oclc/55859335&referer=brief_results

A Lady’s Experiences in the Wild West in 1883

Author: Rose Render (forward by A B Guthrie, Jr)
Series: –

Age/Audience: Teens with an interest in the wild west, adults

Genre/Style: Travel narrative

Read If You Like: Authentic, sassy, Victorian travel narratives, stories about the American West


Mrs. Rose Render’s hyperbolic narrative of her travels through the 19th century is unlike a traditional nonfiction: the line is much more blurry. Though technically a nonfiction book this reads like a narrative thanks to the reflective nature of the writing and the added structural elements. Carrying with her a large collection of luggage, her husband, and her aristocratic English attitude Mrs. Render offers a unique perspective on the West. Her story describes all the details you would hope to find in historic nonfiction – descriptions of the New York style of train luggage porting, interactions between the social classes, and a colorful explanation of the cattle ranching process circa 1883. This little (130 pages) book offers a lot to different readers. You get to enjoy the insight of authentic Victorian travel stories, but you also get Mrs. Render’s hyperbolic, extravagant point of view.


Bottom Line:

Nonfiction for those that don’t like reading nonfiction. This is the kind of book to shake someone out of a reading rut: a mix of styles, a unique voice, and quick enough to read in a day or two.

Read More:


Find It:


Steampunk Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Author: Mary Shelley, Illustrations by Zdenko Bašić and Manuel Sumberac
Series: –

Age/Audience: Late teens

Genre/Style: Classic horror

Read If You Like: Frankenstein, Victorian Monsters, Classics


The story – Victor Frankenstein is an up and coming scientist from a Geneva aristocratic family. After the death of his mother from scarlet fever, he is inspired to finish his studies so he can return to Geneva and marry his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth and complete his family once again. While at school Victor becomes obsessed with natural philosophy, and the notion that he could do the unthinkable, give life back to the dead. After months of study and midnight experiments he finally manages to create his masterpiece. But genius isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and soon things are far beyond Frankenstein’s control. As the death toll grows, is there anything that can be done to stop The Monster?

The Adaptation – I had a hard time deciding how I felt about this particular edition of Frankenstein. Given the heft of the book, and the obvious intention for it to be a steampunk adaptation through the inclusion of new illustration, not modification of the text I expected a lot more. Shelley’s original story is presented in half filled pages paired with too small illustrations too far in between. The kicker, though, is the illustrations are barely steampunk. They are filled with gears and goggles, but nothing functional and nothing in detail. I had very high hopes and this simply didn’t meet them. The cover, however, is fantastic to look at. If only the insides were as intriguing.


Bottom Line:

Not worth the weight. If you want a fantastically steampunk illustrated Frankenstein look into Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein.

Read More:


Find It:


Lady Mechanika

Author: Joe Benitez
Series: Comic series, 3 volumes to date

Age/Audience: Teens and Adults equally

Genre/Style: Comic serial, mystery, supernatural

Read If You Like: Mechanics mixed with demonology, strong females, dark edgy comic styles



The tabloids call her Lady Mechanika, but she doesn’t know what to call herself. Part female serial killer survivor, part mechanical-body-parts experiment Mechanika roams the streets of Victorian London hoping that solving unusual cases might give her insight to her previous life. When a mechanic-demon is found roaming the streets, Mechanika hopes he can answer her questions. But when weapons manufacturer Blackpool gets involved in the hunt, things get much more complicated, and Mechanika will have to do what she does best: kick some ass.

Bottom Line: An action filled comic with creative, pure Steampunk art hosted online with a great in-browser reader.


Read More: http://www.joebenitez.com/mechanika.htm

Find It: https://www.comixology.com/Lady-Mechanika-Vol-1/comics-series/4721 (PS Vol. 0 is FREE, the rest only $1.99 each)