Music Shall Untune the Sky


Music Shall Untune the Sky

by Lou Kemp

GENRE:   magical realism

It’s 1865 and three close friends; the immortal magician Celwyn, the automat Professor Xiau Kang, and Bartholomew, a scientist and widower from Sudan, set out on another adventure as they travel to Singapore to fetch the professor’s wife. Prepare to explore a world reminiscent of our own yet filled with magic and steampunk!

Their private, magically enhanced train, the Elizabeth, is carrying them through the countryside when they witness the purposeful crash of a hot air balloon next to them. Jules Verne emerges from it and joins their party. As they continue east, the danger following the author shadows their train, and the murders begin. When they arrive in Singapore, Captain Nemo uses a unique method to trick Professor Kang into climbing aboard the Nautilus.

Music Shall Untune the Sky is a steampunk fantasy filled with murder, magic, and adventure.


With a sigh, Elizabeth put down her tea.  “If I may?  I suggest we stay together.”  She gestured at the corner of the room.  “There is a water closet there.  We could all stay in this room.”

“That would be very helpful.” Bartholomew gazed around them.  “Jonas could provide food and drink as needed.”

“And blankets.” Kang regarded the sofas they sat on. “These would do as beds. And two of us awake and on guard at all times.”

It appeared they’d formed a plan.

“I need rest now.” The magician felt even more tired because the tension of the moment had eased.

“You look like it,” the automat told him.

A knock sounded, and Captain Nemo preceded Verne into the room.

Kang and the others exchanged a swift look that said, we were listened to.

Celwyn inserted himself in front of the others and faced Captain Nemo.

“Professor Kang would be honored to view your ‘project.’ We prefer to remain here until that occurs.”

Captain Nemo smiled without humor. “For your safety, as you perceive it.”

“Yes,” Kang told him.

 Nemo pivoted on his heel with military precision.

“Enjoy my study, as my guests.” He started for the door. “We will arrive at the Nicobar Islands soon.”

“Jules, feel free to remain,” Celwyn purred. “We have questions for you.” 

About the Author:

Early work was horror and suspense, later work morphed into a combination of magical realism, mystery and adventure painted with a horrific element as needed.

I’m one of those writers who doesn’t plan ahead, no outlines, no clue, and I sometimes write myself into a corner. Atmospheric music in the background helps. Black by Pearl Jam especially.

More information is available at I'd love to hear from you and what you think of Celwyn, Bartholomew, and Professor Xiau Kang.


2009 The anthology story Sherlock’s Opera appeared in Seattle Noir, edited by Curt Colbert, Akashic Books. Available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble online. Booklist published a favorable review of my contribution to the anthology.

2010 My story, In Memory of the Sibylline, was accepted into the best-selling MWA anthology Crimes by Moonlight, edited by Charlaine Harris. The immortal magician Celwyn makes his first appearance in print.

2018 The story, The Violins Played before Junstan is published in the MWA anthology Odd Partners, edited by Anne Perry. The Celwyn series begins.

Present day   My new publisher, 4 Horsemen has reissued book 1 of the Celwyn series: The Violins Played before Junstan. The remaining books in the series; Music Shall Untune the Sky, The Raven and the Pig, The Pirate Danced and the Automat Died, The Wyvern, the Pirate and the Madman will debut, beginning in 2023 -2024. The companion book, Farm Hall, will be reissued in 2023 where readers will see more of Pelaez, another immortal magician and Celwyn's brother. Another companion book, The Sea of the Vanities is due out in 2023.

A word from the Author

Have you ever read a book when you were sad, mad, glad, or bored out of your mind? When you finished reading, did your mood change?

It is possible that your book selection could have alleviated the mood or made it worse. 

Here are some random examples:

If you are a tad depressed, look no further than these samples to maintain that mood:

Road Ends, by Mary Lawson. A dysfunctional family saga.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Cloned children raised as organ donors. 

Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh. After WWI a look at society that doesn’t end well.

Atonement by Ian McEwan.  Actions have consequences—real bad ones.

If you are bored, look no further than these feel-good mysteries to boost your mood:

Still Life by Louise Penny. First of the Inspector Gamache mysteries

The Paris Apartment by Kelly Bowen.  A historical mystery that will make you think.

Your romantic partner suddenly is no longer on your Christmas list? Try these romantic revenge offerings that may or may not change your mood: 

Twisted Love by Ana Huang

Hooked by Elizabeth McIntire

Kill Switch by Penelope Douglas

The best mood of all makes you laugh:

The World's Worst Assistant, by Sona Movsesian.

Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation, by Hannah Gadsby. 

Start Without Me (I'll Be There in a Minute), by Gary Janetti. 

Tracy Flick Can't Win, by Tom Perrotta. 

Welcome to Woodmont College, by Mike Sacks and Jason Roeder. 

What kind of mood will you be in after reading book 2, Music Shall Untune the Sky?  My guess is anxious: you will want to know what happens in book 3


Lou Kemp will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. A fantastic title. I love magic in stories.

  2. The book sounds very intriguing. Great cover!

  3. An interesting idea, combining real authors, familiar fictional characters, and new characters to make a tale set in a fairly recently developed environment.


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