Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
I have such mixed feelings about this book. There was a lot I enjoyed. The setting, the steampunk gears-and-machines geekery, the main character's gumption (sometimes--she completely lacked gumption in some parts), the fairy tale strange path to your dreams feel. I even liked the Dickensian "orphan is more than she seems" fun. I was definitely pulled into the story and wanted to see Petra make her engineering dreams come true and find true love and change the world. I was cheering for our heroes, so that's a win.
But there was also a lot that disappointed. An unnecessary plot thread involving a rejected suitor turned potential rapist. It seems like we could have come up with a more natural sort of peril rather than giving a character who was presented as innocuous such a vicious turn.
The amount of the book spent on mooning over chocolate hair and copper eyes. I have limited stomach for swooning romance and at times the romance overwhelmed the elements that interested me more.
Interesting small characters that completely disappeared never to be thought of even for a moment when they weren't actively participating in the scene (Solomon? Matron? Mr. Stricket?) Other small characters that seemed to have gone to the Snidely Whiplash school of villainy.
Emmerich, our stalwart hero, was one-note in the way he protected Petra by seeming to betray her. Twice in such a short piece is at least once too often.
In the end, I can say I enjoyed it, but I wanted it to be more than it ended up being, to push a little deeper, reach a little higher. There was unreached potential in this book.
Review by Samantha Bryant, another bookish fangirl. You can learn more about her and her work at http://samanthabryant.com