Steampunk meets Charlie’s Angels in Kress’ first full-length outing for teens.
Ignore the Buffy-styled language (“It was very explosion-y”). Ignore the anachronistic attitudes about sexuality, the girl trained as a samurai, the thousand insults to historical fiction. Because this is not about history. It’s a little bit about steam. Mostly it’s about girl power with glitter and goggles, lit by gaslight and spiced by murder mystery. Cora (commoner assistant to a mad, noble inventor with a secret basement lair), Nellie (beautiful assistant to a mysterious, all-knowing magician, a great character diminished by stereotypical exotic Othering) and Michiko (Japanese assistant to a drunken sword-fighting instructor, with more stereotyped behavior on both parts) unexpectedly find themselves caught up in mystery and danger when a secret society starts killing people off. Derring-do, midnight fights, a few kisses with various fellows, some adolescent drinking and crime solving ensue. The final lines set up the girls for additional adventures and presumably more volumes, too.
Frothy, sparkly fun with no substance, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need. (Steampunk. 12-16)