Series: Magnificent Devices #1
Published by Moonshell Books
Genre: Steampunk (YA)
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When lady Claire Trevelyan's father commits suicide, instead of traveling to the family's meager country estate with mother and young brother, Claire decides to prove her resourcefulness by staying, alone, in London. However, after the house that was to be hers upon marriage gets set alight by a angry mob, Claire finds herself in the worse part of London: Whitechapel!
Being a young lady of intellect and courage, she takes what could have been the worst moment of her young life and turns it around. Before long, a new leader rises in the London underworld - one known for certain scientific methods - know simply as the Lady of Devices
'"It would be helpful if you told us why the compounds should not be mixed."'
Right from the first sentence, this book had me captured. The book starts off with a bang - literally - when our titular Lady Claire Trevelyan caused an explosion in Chemistry class. Claire proves herself an intelligent and curious young lady when the expectations of the times was for her to simply marry well and preside over tea and gossip. Early on, Claire demonstrates that is not the life she wants - determined as she is to enter university.
Honestly, I think the majority of the reason I liked this book so much was because of Claire. She's smart and brave and witty and pretty much everything I wanted to be when I was seventeen. (Still kinda want to be all those.) She's not perfect though, she makes choices that aren't the best. She tends to jump into things without thinking about them and puts herself in more danger than she truly needs to. And all those things are part of the reason that I adore her.
As for the other characters… James Selwyn. Oh, how I loathe that guy. He is the requisite 'bad-boy love interest'. Actually, he's a controlling little creep. I remember saying at his and Claire's first or second meeting that I would be so ticked off if they were the couple. Well, the good news is that isn't dealt with in this book, Claire remaining fancy-free for awhile longer. I will note than I am so sick of romance's with these type of guys. He's just…ugh.
The other love interest is Andrew Malvern, a young scientist. Honestly, as soon as I met this guy, I was quite taken with him. He's really intelligent and kind of has an all-work-and-no-play mentality that I find endearing. He also isn't the most socially adept, usually being quite adorable when conversations of anything besides his work comes up.
No question at all which of the two I support, now is there?
The rest of the cast of characters is rounded out by a herd of down-on-their-luck orphans. I won't say more about them or their circumstances to avoid spoilers. What I will say is that their characters were very well done in my opinion and seemed rather realistic.
There's not really much of a plot, the story being more of a coming of age setup for the rest of the series. However, that doesn't mean it's slow paced as lady Claire isn't the sort to let grass grow under her feet.
I would like to note that a blurb on the back cover had me slightly concerned. '[An author] who looks at the darkness as well as the light'. Having never read anything by Ms Adina before, I wasn't sure how that would translate to a story. There were several moments early on in the book that could have taken a very nasty turn - a turn that I wouldn't want to read about. But, the moments walked the line and never became what I was afraid they would.
The story didn't shy away from things it wanted to say, but it also didn't revel in gratuitous violence. Or anything else for that matter. The story did have its tense moments, but it didn't degrade as I was half worried it would.
Final note: I cannot believe I almost forgot. This is what drew me to the book in the first place. The cover. Oh my gosh, it is just gorgeous. I love it so much. Unfortunately, Claire wasn't often described the way this young lady looks - but the picture is just so lovely.