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Reviewed by Lee Ashford for Readers' Favorite
Yuletide Miracle by Robert Appleton is as fine an example of the Steampunk genre as you’ll find anywhere. The story does not focus on the artifacts of a Steampunk world; rather it simply makes use of them to further the story, as the occasion may call for.
In Yuletide Miracle, young Edmond Reardon is trudging through the snow with his parents, Professor Cecil Reardon and Mrs. Lois Reardon, on Christmas Eve, wondering when and if they are ever going to enter a store to buy something. Spying what appears to be a 10-pound note partially buried in the slushy curbside snow, he bends down, pretending to tie his shoelace, so he can pick up the money without his parents noticing. Suddenly a steam car swerves to avoid a giant snowball, and skids directly toward Edmond. His mother screams and reaches for him, but just when it appears the two of them will both be killed, the strong arms of a stranger snatch them from the path of the out-of-control steam car. Grateful for saving their lives, Lois invites the obviously down-and-out stranger to share their Christmas Eve dinner, and he readily accepts. Throughout the story this stranger, Red Mulqueen, plays a significant role as a radical trying to break up the powerful Atlas Club, which has subsumed the Leviacrum Council in an effort to take control of England through subterfuge. Not until the final page do we understand just who Red Mulqueen is.
Robert Appleton has fashioned a potent and compelling tale with such a breathtaking bombshell of a conclusion, you will be tempted immediately to reread the entire story, with this additional information in hand. Even if you successfully eschew the temptation, Yuletide Miracle will remain in your head for some time, as you re-evaluate various events in light of your new understanding. Yuletide Miracle is not a long story, but it is definitely long enough for you to get your money’s worth. Quantity notwithstanding, the quality of the story is well worth the money, too. This is a poignant tale that truly is a Yuletide Miracle.