*I received an ecopy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
This book was an enjoyable, fun steampunk-fantasy mash-up!
The plot was steady and kept me interested, and the twists were fantastic. I saw one or two of them coming, but others I didn’t see coming at all, though they made sense once I knew about them.
The characters were also good, definitely the go-get-em types, making plans and jumping into action to do what they thought was right and save the ones they loved, rather than sitting around waiting for things to happen to them. And Ike was lovable and interesting with his mysterious past, his protectiveness of Edna and even some of the other characters, and his willingness to keep fighting.
I’m not sure the book was quite for me though. Maybe I’m just comparing to other protagonists of the same age I’ve read, or maybe I expected something different because of Edna’s rough life, but Edna herself seemed younger than 15. (Then again, I don’t spend much time around teenagers and don’t really know how they act or think at different ages.) And even though Edna was 15 and Ike was a few years older than that, the whole book felt kind of young for my taste. I think it’d be wonderful for readers who are young (I can see my younger self loving this, and Edna is a great role model) or who simply like younger protags, but it just wasn’t quite right for me.
I was also confused by the world-building. It was steampunk, so there were automation robots, blimps, locomobiles, coglings, etc., but there were also dragons, soot demons, trolls, hags, ogres, and other fantasy creatures of, I believe, the author’s own creation. I’ve read steampunk-fantasy before, I just found the array of creatures to be a bit random as I never knew what might pop up next. (But I did think the baby dragon was adorable!)
Overall though, this was an entertaining read with a good story and idea behind it, and if you like the steampunk-fantasy aspects I described, I think you’ll like it even more than I did!
When fifteen-year-old Edna Mather tears an expensive and unfamiliar pocket watch off her little brother’s neck, he crumbles into a pile of cogs right before her eyes. Horrified, Edna flees for help, but encounters Ike, a thief who attempts to steal the watch before he realizes what it is: a device to power Coglings—clockwork changelings left in place of stolen children who have been forced to work in factories.
Desperate to rescue her brother, Edna sets off across the kingdom to the hags’ swamp, with Ike in tow. There, they learn Coglings are also replacing nobility so the hags can stage a rebellion and rule over humanity. Edna and Ike must stop the revolt, but the populace believes hags are helpful godmothers and healers. No one wants to believe a lowly servant and a thief, especially when Ike has secrets that label them both as traitors.
Together, Edna and Ike must make the kingdom trust them or stop the hags themselves, even if Ike is forced to embrace his dark heritage and Edna must surrender her family.