Big Stick

In 1897, Beverly Haddad is well aware that her sex and race will keep her from investigating the deadly and mysterious lightning strikes that have plagued New York. She seeks help from Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt, and soon the two find themselves hunted by a vast conspiracy known as Gideon’s Trumpet which has access to amazing new scientific devices never before seen. With the help of Mark Twain and others, they launch an attack, aided by Teddy’s new massive lightning gun, which he lovingly calls BIG STICK.

Click here to read the first few chapters

Click here to watch and hear Michael read an excerpt


“Full steam ahead! With BIG STICK, Michael Ventrella gives us a wild and thoroughly entertaining steampunk adventure featuring an improbable cast of historical figures, plenty of action, and lots of fun! Highly recommended!” – Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Deep Silence and V-Wars

“Memorable characters, snappy dialogue and plenty of action and adventure. BIG STICK has it all. One of the best books I’ve read in a long while!” – Gail Z. Martin, author of Vengeance: A Novel of Darkhurst

“Full of the best kind of steampunk adventure with one of the biggest personalities in American history. A great fun ride!” – Philippa Ballantine, co-author of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series

“BIG STICK doesn’t have everything. It has more than everything! A dynamic PoC secret agent! Teddy Roosevelt! Steampunk inventions! Real dirty politics in a fantastic might-have-been world! Rayguns! Airships! Assassinations! Teddy Roosevelt with a raygun! And a cover by Phil Foglio! What the heck are you doing looking at this stupid blurb? Buy this book and read it!” – Ryk Spoor, author of Grand Central Arena and Princess Holy Aura

“Those who like bizarre contraptions reminiscent of the work of H. G. Wells or Jules Verne will be pleased here … What is hands-down the best part of this book is the pacing; the plot ticks along like a metronome, with very little fat on the meat. It means the book never slows down; it is a steampunk thriller par excellence.

The character work is also quite good. Theodore Roosevelt feels like the hero that alternate history has always made him, and he is gregarious … Beverly Haddad is wicked smart with know-how bolstered by a background that deepens her place in the story. In a sense, they are buddy cops, and the wit between them is quite funny.

Big Stick is good, pulpy fun. It is that more lighthearted sort of alternate history that uses its setting to furnish an adventure in the old-school sense, updated with modern sensibility but without sacrificing why people loved those adventure tales in the first place.” – Alexander Wallace, Sea Lion Press

“Take the Underground Railroad, add golems, and then dirigible warfare. Stir briskly, accent with snappy dialogue, apply to the ocular goo-spheres, and voila.

I’ve read the first 2/3rds of this story about four times. Even at a skim, by five pages in, there’s a goofy smile on my face and I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride. Ventrella has a firm hold of the reader’s humerus. Why only 2/3rds of the story? Because I never wanted it to end. I’ve read the entire thing now, and I still don’t want it to end.

From the initiating incident to the final denouement, the story just keeps getting bigger and weirder and even more fun. I’d be willing to bet that 90% of the characters introduced, get outros/closure as well. Somewhere, I can hear the faint cry of an editor being slightly overpaid.

Much like his previous BLOODSUCKERS, BIG STICK makes politics sound like fun.

This is a delightful read full of unexpected surprises, with a real sense of liking its characters, even its moustachio-rotating villains.

I generally don’t read male authors. I make an exception for Michael, for what will become obvious reasons once you read this story. Have good time, and keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times.” – L.M. Kate Johnston

“‘BIG STICK was a fun read, and had my favorite president Teddy Roosevelt as a main character, so I enjoyed it quite a bit.” – Phil Foglio

“From the jump, Ventrella delivered a cast of characters with bigger than life personalities. He incorporated witty dialogue, snippets of actual historical facts interspersed throughout a fast-paced and innovative plot, laden with super cool futuristic devices and gadgets used by charismatic heroes and dastardly villains alike. It all made for a highly enjoyable and entertaining read.

But wait!––there’s that cover. We readers all like to say that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but that’s utter hogwash. A-fib. A sham. We all do it, even subconsciously. I found Big Stick’s cover eye-appealing, and the design complemented the story perfectly. The whole package––well done! Or as Teddy Roosevelt in the story would say, ‘Bully!’

Lastly, Ventrella didn’t write a steampunk action-story exclusively, but cleverly dropped throughout his plot and prose, a multitude of political innuendos and inferences, providing the reader an additional and impressive layer of reading satisfaction.” – Sahar Abdulaziz

“BIG STICK is a lot of fun. I laughed out loud many times. The story is fast-paced and the characters are as fascinating as they are fun (particularly Roosevelt). I loved our heroine, Beverly. One of the best parts of the reading experience for me, though, was waiting for each item on the cover (which is fantastic) to show up in the book!

Recommended for fans of steampunk, alternate history, and something different. And fun.” – Kelly Jensen

“I’m not sure what I enjoyed most: Teddy Roosevelt, irrepressible and unstoppable (in other words, he never shuts up and refuses to stay out of the thick of the fray, wherever it is); the host of fascinating characters from the author’s lively imagination, first and foremost of whom is the admirable Beverly Haddad, a courageous, smart woman far ahead of her time; an exciting, engrossing plot, with a host of incredible devices that I could envision, thanks to the author’s wonderful descriptions. Along with this, how much fun to run into Mark Twain, of all people, in a flying ship in the late nineteenth century. And to attend the inauguration of William McKinley as it happens in this fantasy world, with all hell breaking loose. Accompanying all this, a large dose of humor that had me laughing out loud more than once! A thoroughly delightful read.” – Susan Moore Jordan

“I enjoyed this immensely. Plenty of drama, as well as lighter moments. Folks who like reading fiction set in US political history should appreciate this whether they care about the steampunk aspect or not.” – C.V. Connell

“5 out of 5 stars! Great Steampunk Romp with Teddy Roosevelt, Robots, and Rayguns!!! This was a very fun read, as is any novel that can bring to life our most interesting president, Teddy Roosevelt. But he’s not the only celebrity of the 1890s to show up–there are some really surprising ones, dropped in periodically throughout the book. And yes, we get to see Teddy with rayguns and other seemingly futuristic weapons and other devices as he charges ahead into each adventure, battling evil politicians and robots and more! In the afterword, you discover that even many of the minor characters were real people. So if you like Teddy and other, historical figures come to life, steampunk, or just high adventure, you’ll probably like this.” – Larry B. Hodges

“This book is a load of fun. it creates a alternate history of the beginning of the twentieth century and the end of the nineteenth. A wonderful escape into another world and time.” – Ralph Hieb

“A rollicking tale of Teddy Roosevelt in his best over-the-top character and Beverly, a black undercover agent who is helping him. There is a host of real historical figures worked into the tale of attempts on commissioner Roosevelt’s life as he tries to solve the mystery of electrical strikes out of the blue. There is a steam-powered clockwork army built by evil scientists. And then Teddy and Beverly learn of a plot against McKinley’s life. Non-stop action! Rating: 5 stars.” – Wendy Snyder

“A steampunk adventure featuring Teddy Roosevelt?! Since he’s my favorite President (though the story is set back in his younger days as Police Commissioner of New York City) and one of my favorite historical characters, period, my reaction was, Sign me up!

It proved to be the right idea. Although Teddy, predictably, does tend to take over the action any time he’s onstage, the main character is actually Beverly Haddad, a black woman working for a secret agency, who has many skills and wacky gizmos of her own. There are also surprise appearances by two other major historical figures, several less well-known ones, and some delightful fictional folks as well, plus plenty of action, strange inventions, and, yes, of course, an airship. In short, you’ve got everything you need for a rousing steampunk good time. The characters aren’t deep, and the villains are on the stereotyped side, but who cares? Enjoy, and hope along with me that this is the start of a series.” – Lisa Yount

“This book is incredible! It is hilarious, has a host of fantastic characters, and sticky situations that leave you eagerly turning the page to see how they conclude. An excellent addition to the author’s library.” – Henry Hart

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