Cogheart

cogheart

Cogheart was written by Peter Bunzl and first published in 2016. It is a steampunk novel aimed at middle grade readers which focuses on a young girl as she searches for her missing father. The novel forms the first part of a series and its sequel – provisionally titled Moonlocket – is expected to be released next year.

Lily Hartman does not want to be a proper lady. While the tutors at Miss Scrimshaw’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies are intent on teaching her good manners and poise, she would much rather be reading penny dreadfuls and practicing her lock picking skills. Yet her life becomes even worse when her father – esteemed inventor of mechanicals and mechanimals, John Hartman – is killed in an airship accident, leaving her entrusted to the care of her cold-hearted housekeeper, Madame Verdigris.

Yet Lily struggles to believe that her father is dead. After all, nobody ever found the body. Further suspicions arise when her father’s pet mechanimal fox, Malkin, is discovered by the local clockmaker’s apprentice, a clumsy boy by the name of Robert. Malkin escaped the airship crash, carrying a note which reveals the truth about John’s shady past. He may very well have invented the first perpetual motion machine and there may be others who are also aware of this fact.

As Robert and Malkin try to deliver the letter to Lily, the young girl finds herself in grave danger. Two sinister men with mirrors for eyes are hunting for her and she’s pretty sure that Madame Verdigris is also in on the conspiracy. She knows that her only chance of staying safe and finding her father is to get to her Godfather, but he lives many miles away in London. Soon, Lily’s life starts to feel like one of her penny dreadfuls and she realises that even her closest friends may not be all that trustworthy…

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Mechanica

Mechanica

Mechanica was written by Betsy Cornwell and is due for release later this month. It is a steampunk take on the story of Cinderella and contains a mixture of science-fiction and fantasy themes. The novel is a stand-alone story and so you do not need to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Following the death of her father, Nicolette Lampton’s life is utterly turned upside down. Overnight, her Stepmother fires her only friend – the household’s fae butler Mr. Candery – and announces that the ten year old will be taking over all of his duties. Quickly learning not to rebel, Nicolette – called Nick by her Stepsisters – settles into her new life as a slave and loses all hope that her story will ever have a happy ending.

On the night of her sixteenth birthday, a note is pushed under her bedroom door. It hints as to the location of her mother’s workshop – a place that Nick believed to have long since been destroyed – and soon Nick is able to resume her mother’s tinkering. With the help of her mother’s last machines, including a small army of insects and an intelligent miniature horse named Jules, Nick quickly devises ways to make her chores easier.

When the royal family announces a ball and cultural exposition in honour of the Heir’s coming-of-age, Nick knows that she has to somehow be there. The exposition is her one chance to get her work noticed and make enough money to buy back her home. However, the path to self-sufficiency is littered with obstacles. How will she get the materials that she needs and construct her entry without her cruel Stepmother noticing?

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The Lady Astronomer

The Lady Astronomer

The Lady Astronomer was written by Katy O’Dowd and first published in 2012. It is an alternative history novel based loosely around the life of Caroline Hershel, embellished with fantastical steampunk elements.

Lucretia lives a busy life. She is well known throughout the town of Bath for her soprano singing voice and the fine hats that she makes. On top of this, she spends her free time caring for her dysfunctional family – brothers Freddie and Al, Leibniz the lemur and Orion the owl – and studying the stars from the roof of their home.

When her Freddie receives funding from the King to build a forty-foot high telescope, she is forced to leave her business and move with him to Slough in order to be closer to the court. Intelligent and resourceful, Lucretia has little trouble in getting their new home up and running.

However, as misfortune strikes and delays the completion of the Forty-Foot, Lucretia is taken hostage by the King in a well-meaning attempt to get Freddie to work faster. The Lady Astronomer has never been exposed to life in the royal court before and soon finds it to be far more cut-throat than she could ever have imagined. As her stay lengthens, it becomes increasingly apparent that if the telescope is not completed quickly then she could easily lose her life.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events 1-3

A Series of Unfortunate Events 1-3

Although I am not going to argue that A Series of Unfortunate Events is in any way aimed at a teenage audience, I’ve decided to make it the subject of today’s review. As I noted in my FAQ, I will also occasionally consider books for a younger market if I feel that they have the ability to appeal to older readers. I think that this series more than fits that criterion.

A Series of Unfortunate Events was written by Lemony Snicket (pen name for the author Daniel Handler) and is a fascinating series for many reasons. The first novel, The Bad Beginning, was original published in 1999 but has been rereleased in a number of different special editions since then. It was rapidly followed by twelve sequels – The Reptile Room (1999), The Wide Window (2000), The Miserable Mill (2000), The Austere Academy (2000), The Ersatz Elevator (2001), The Vile Village (2001), The Hostile Hospital (2001), The Carnivorous Carnival (2002), The Slippery Slope (2003), The Grim Grotto (2004), The Penultimate Peril (2005) and The End (2006). Many short supplementary novels have also been published in order to further flesh out the story, though I’m not going to talk about them (if you wish to learn more, Wikipedia is your friend). For the purpose of this review, I am only going to focus on the first three novels only.

The series are told by Lemony Snicket himself, an unidentified individual who has been researching the tragic story of the Baudelaire siblings. Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire were three ordinary children whose lives were thrown into disarray when their parents were suddenly killed in a terrible house fire. Their parents left to their children an enormous inheritance and stated in their will that they wanted their children to live with a relative until Violet turned eighteen and was able to claim it.

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