Summary (goodreads): London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin’s son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world.
At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire’s talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It’s not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices . . .
When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his . . . if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals…
Review: This is the first book of a series that is still ongoing and so far consists of four books, I think. I can’t really say that this novel is very different from other steampunk novels I’ve read so far. It is close to All men of genius in terms of characters and story, at least in the beginning. Still, I liked the book quite well. The characters are likeable – or detestable, at least some.
The heroine is intelligent, humourous and not afraid of doing what’s necessary in dire situations. The male counterpart, Andrew Malvern is lovely, of course. Their relationship develops slow but steady I would say, but circumstances are not in their favour, so I’m keen on reading the next few books to see what’s going to happen. The Lady’s crew, with the Mopsies, Snouts, Jake and Tigg is funny and fresh and I enjoy reading their slang. I don’t want to spoiler, so it’s hard to write about this without giving too much away. But I’m sure these characters will follow Claire through the next few books and that is another reason to read them.
The writing style is quite easy, sometimes I stumble over dialogue where I’m not entirely sure who’s talking, but those are minor things that I can overlook. The story is told from multiple viewpoints, not only Claire’s but also Andrew’s, the Mopsies and so on. I find that refreshing and it helps to keep up with the storyline – since not all characters are always together.
So in total, I enjoyed the read and even though it is not very original and certainly no masterpiece, it is great to pass the time on the metro – and since there will be more to the story, considerably more (I heard there will be 8 books), I shall look forward to the continuations. This book gets a 4 out of 5.