Although her father gave away the invention meant to cure her before he died, Eyelet is determined to hunt down his invention and use it herself. In a world where madness is treated without mercy, the machine may be her only hope to cure her seizures. However, her father’s power hungry colleague, Professor Smrt, is determined to beat her to it. When she finds it at last, it’s only to watch Urlick Babbit steal it before she can. In order to defeat Smrt, she and Urlick will have to face many dangers together, including the machine which may turn out to be the greatest danger of all. (adapted from goodreads)
Jacqueline Garlick has definitely mastered that most talked about technique – showing instead of telling. This book was action packed right from the beginning and while it took me a bit to orient myself in the original world she’s created, I loved every minute of it. I’ve only read a little steampunk, but to me at least, many of her creative imaginings of that kind of world were brilliantly novel. Her hero and heroine were equally unique, with features that distinguish them dramatically from the annoyingly unrealistic perfect heros and heroines who populates so many YA stories. This only made them more likable. They each had their quirks and insecurities which contributed to the realistic romance that followed. Unlike in many books, I can point to specific reasons the characters like each other, a fact that makes a romance feel far less cliche.
My only problem with the book is the pacing. While more realistic than most, the romance progressed fairly quickly. The adventures were exciting, but the hero and heroine were so often in near death situations that they lost their emotional impact. By the end, they could be gasping their last breath and I wouldn’t be too concerned, because they’ve survived everything already! Despite my lack of worry for the characters, I was sad to come to a cliff-hanger ending. While I’m sure everything will work out, I wanted to know what came next. I really became invested in this fantastic world and the fates of these unique protagonists. I can’t wait to read more! I would recommend this to any fan of steampunk, but also to fans of realistic romance and of gothic stories since this had a distinctly gothic feel at times.