Format – Prose
Edition – Kindle
Age – Middle Grade/KS2 Primary
Genre – Steampunk/Mystery/Adventure
Series – The Cogheart Adventures
Author – Peter Bunzl
Book Number – 1
Number of Pages – 235
Date of Publication – September 1st, 2016
Before Victorian London was overrun with Shadowhunters, demons and warlocks, it served as the main backdrop for young Lily Grantham/Hartman and her steampunk adventures. An unruly and stubborn student at a prestigious finishing school, Lily is determined to show the world that humans and automatons can live in harmony, sharing souls and anthropomorphic personalities. After the events of a zeppelin accident involving her father – a renowned first-rate mechanic – she is forced home where her secret past starts to catch up with her. Running for her life with her mechanimal fox sidekick Malkin, she comes across Robert and soon all three are heading on a perilous journey to London, not knowing what their adventures will bring. Soon enough they are plunged into a dark and menacing world full of murder, mayhem and mystery, whilst grappling with conflicting feelings of love, loss, and betrayal.
I only found out about this book recently and as soon as I saw the word steampunk I knew that it was a book I had to read. It plays out like Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices and touches on the ethics of Frankenstein whilst written and packaged as a middle-grade/pre-YA novel. I don’t read many books of this age range, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief probably being the last one, but I will make an exception for this series because it blew me away.
To me as a protagonist, Lily is a younger Tessa Gray – minus the shape-changing, she is ahead of her time, determined, full of heart (literally and metaphorically), a booklover, and risk-taker for her family and friends. She knows what is important in her life and protecting that is one of her true strengths. Mistakes may be made along the way but that is what elevates her to the top position of my favourite young female leads. When she finds a loyal and deserved friend in Robert, you know that it one action to applaud. Out of all the characters in this story, Robert is the boy that has the longest and toughest journey. Orphaned and full of fear (especially in regards to heights) he doesn’t know where he belongs, but that doesn’t stop him being honest, dependable, and growing into someone who is courageous and willing to fight for his life – pulling a Neville Longbottom but contained in one book! Faced with a cast of villains and antagonists, both prove themselves worthy of needing more than one book to showcase what they can achieve and how they can become positive role models. They might have their disagreements but forced together under unnatural and specific circumstances, that is to be expected and it makes them more realistic and relatable.
I need to know more about certain secondary characters, like Anna the reporter, but I guarantee that I will find out more in the sequel.
Characters and plot don’t work unless inside a believable and well-built world and Peter Bunzl did an amazing job in creating a different and lifelike steampunk world. It took a couple of chapters of meeting human-mechanical hybrids, mechanimals (mechanical animals), and riding on steam-powered zeppelins for me to easily fall in love with the world and remind myself why I love the steampunk aspect of Victorian society. Moving into the language of the world, I was giddy at the carefully chosen and inspired words that took the place of expletives and phrases of exasperation – it shows frustration in an imaginative manner whilst remaining clean and respectful of the world that Peter Bunzl wants to create.
Set out as the first book in a series, this instalment rounds off nicely that it can be considered as a standalone. However, what is great about future books is that each one will be packed full with fun and varying adventures, expanding on the world and allowing characters like Lily and Robert to age and develop further. It also means that the deeper themes in the book can be explored in greater detail. I’m highly anticipating this next book and I’m even more excited knowing that it is being released in April!
If I could find one aspect to knock off possibly half a star, it would come down to the predictability of a couple plot points. Nonetheless, I am not going to do so because at the end of the day it wasn’t blatantly obvious, I was honestly expecting it, and so much else was happening that it was easy to overlook.
If anyone is looking for an easy read, and a steampunk exciting, nail-biting, fun-packed adventure, then this is it. Highly recommended for anyone!
What instantly strikes me about this cover is the vivid blue background. It is the perfect backdrop for the central clock face and all the little details that are surrounding that. It also tells you enough whilst keeping the nature of the story hidden, and that is what you want from a cover.
I personally don’t always like one-lined reviews on the front of a book, or even in place of the blurb for that matter, but this one calling it “a glittering clockwork treasure” is subtle and not the primary focus. It is also rather apt, so this time I’ll allow it 😀
After all that it is no surprise to a lot of people that I rate this a:
It falls low on a diversity scale but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying what it is a really good middle-grade novel.
Have you read this book?
What do you think?
Thanks for reading and have a good day!