I was sent a free review copy of Dr. Homebrew, by Snow Hudson. (Though the illustrator, Chiara Rogazzo deserves mention too. It’s worth checking out the website just to see more of of her illustrations.) While not currently free, I also know that the book has been available for free through Amazon KDP and will likely come up again.
Description from Goodreads:
An unassuming Psychiatrist by day, Dr. Max Mason and his assistant, Amber, work after-hours in their underground laboratory making the world’s best beers. Unfortunately for Max and Amber, the global corporation, Lake’s Ltd., has forced all independent beer brewers out of business. Pursued by Mr. Wig (the CEO of Lake’s Ltd.) and the clueless Chief Inspector Hastings, Max and Amber dodge one close call after another in pursuit of having their home-brewed beers distributed amongst the general population.
Will Max and Amber ever be able to sell their delicious drinks in the real world? Will Mr. Wig or the Chief Inspector ever find out who Dr. Homebrew really is? Who is blackmailing Dr. Max Mason? And will Max and Amber ever acknowledge their feelings for one another?
To start with, I adore this cover. It sets the feel of the book before you even start page one. It’s what originally attracted me to the book. As a matter of fact, it’s only the cover that really makes this a steakpunk novella. The technology isn’t really described in enough detail to clue the reader in to its technological genre (normal, sic-fi, steampunk, etc).
I quite enjoyed the story, didn’t immediately figure out the mystery, adored Max and Amber and felt really sorry for poor Chief Inspector Hastings (even if maybe I shouldn’t have). I couldn’t decide if this was supposed to be an indictment of the perceived lack of choice available in the modern Western market or not. I think some of us would be surprised at how little variety is actually available to us once you consider that choice really is only an illusion if you’re only allowed to choose between the same few options. Not to mention how many of those options are actually owned by the same companies. But again, I couldn’t decide if this was or wasn’t the theme here. It could have been or it could just be me reading too much into it.
The novella was written in a tight, snappy narrative style that moved along nicely. I did find it just a little bit repetitive and thought it wrapped up quite quickly at the end. It definitely left ample opening for a second book. I look forward to reading it.