A Dream of Steam by James W Barry

I have received a free e-copy of the book A Dream of Steam by James W Barry to review. For more information on the author, you may see his website.

A Dream of Steam by James W Barry

Here is the book blurb.

“It was the end of dread, at least in its first and most paralyzing form. Each brother knew that the gnawing worry that had lay siege to the backs of their minds for the past six months had finally broken through the walls, emerging in their midst. It was something that could no longer be dodged, or suppressed, or unimagined.”As the autumn shipping season draws to a close, Captain Thomas McGrath steps ashore to help his ambitious brother William rebuild the family sawmill. Despite Thomas’ aversion to debt, William convinces him to borrow heavily so they might convert their ailing, water-powered mill to steam. While adapting to the new technology, Thomas finds himself navigating between ax-wielding log pirates, hostile longshoremen, and his brother’s obsession with finding his estranged wife.The newly retooled mill is ramping up lumber production when the winds of fortune turn. Thomas has set sail again when a financial crisis hits, running the brothers afoul of John Fitzpatrick, a crooked bank officer employed by their lender. Fitzpatrick’s crimes push the McGrath Brothers Lumber Company to the edge of ruin, forcing Thomas to consider a high risk proposal if he wants to save their livelihood and get out of debt.Set in 1890s Michigan, A Dream of Steam is a story of sailing ships and lumberjacks, aspirations and disappointment, love and heartbreak, peopled by men and women who take control of their destinies in an era of rapid change.

This book is set by the Great Lakes in the early 1890s. A slow start as we are introduced to all the characters, of whom the main ones are brothers William and Thomas McGrath. William runs the sawmill whilst Thomas transports the cargo in his ship Genevieve across Lake Huron to destinations such as Detroit. William is trying to convince Thomas that they need to modernise to steam power in order to remain competitive, but this will require substantial financing.

There are several threads to the story, so we also meet those who work at the bank in Detroit, where the McGrath brothers secure a loan. There crooked bank clerk Fitzpatrick is skimming bank funds to meet his personal gambling debts.

Plenty going on throughout this book – fights, rescues, intimidation, annoying neighbours, an estranged wife and even a murder.

At the end of the book, we discover that a true story inspired the author to write this novel. There is also a glossary of mill and ship terminology at the end, which might have been better at the beginning in my opinion, so that the reader would be more aware of it.

A Dream of Steam is available on Amazon, currently priced at £3.82 in Kindle format and is also available in paperback. Not my usual genre, but an interesting historical read.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

7 thoughts on “A Dream of Steam by James W Barry

  1. sarahmo3w

    It sounds interesting, especially as it is based on a true story, but I do struggle a bit with unfamiliar language. I would definitely be flicking backwards and forwards looking at the glossary!



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