Vial Thoughts



Balanced on a thin wire between horror and steampunk, Van Essler’s debut novel is an acrobatic performance at the darkest of circuses. Lenora Leahill has recently inherited her father’s estate and is ready to take her place in the enlightened Age of Awareness where books can be instantly consumed as injections using an Aqua Peritia cuff. She has grand plans for securing her legacy, but navigating these new responsibilities alone is not easy, especially when it’s impossible to see clearly under the city’s ashfall.

When an old colleague of her father’s demands fulfillment of a promise Lenora knows nothing about, she discovers this new Age of Awareness is haunted by a dark history. Lenora must wade through the shadows of the past and gain her footing in the present if she has any hope of a future—unless death or madness finds her first.

What They’re Saying

“Essler has created a fully realized world that relies heavily on steampunk conventions like steam-driven cars and prosthetics, which is just one way the book leans into body horror. However, featuring Lenora as the protagonist also allows Essler to make some social commentary about classism and sexism. Lenora not only works against those who wish her harm but also those who think her incapable due to her station. VERDICT Overall, this book is a solid debut and sure to be enjoyed by steampunk fans who’d like to dip a toe into the bloody horror pool.” – Library Journal

“An utterly readable mélange of steampunk and gothic horror, Essler’s stellar debut novel—the first installment of her Age of Awareness saga—is like a milky shot of absinthe: hypnotic, hallucination-inducing, and highly addictive…A darkly lyrical and stylishly stygian page-turner—literary opium.” – Barnes & Noble Reviewer Paul Goat Allen

“From the ashes rises a truly outstanding heroine on a journey to self discovery through generational trauma. Highly recommend, a masterpiece!” – USA Today Bestselling Author Virginia Nelson

“Van Essler’s debut novel Vial Thoughts surges through your veins with its frightening vision of a dystopian world where knowledge is bought, sold, controlled, and killed for. Feeling a little too possible for comfort, this steampunk dark sci-fi is a shot of adrenaline from the first chapter that will leave you tearing through the ash-covered streets sweating, panting, and begging for more.” – Bram Stoker Award Winner EV Knight