The sequel to The Conjuror’s Riddle (2015) and the final novel in the Inventor’s Secret trilogy brings to a conclusion the story of the attempts of the Resistance to overcome the evil Empire that controlled the American continent following a war loosely modeled on the U.S. Revolutionary War.
Large political issues and forces are hinted at, but as in the other novels in the trilogy, this story focuses tightly on the adventures, emotions, and family dynamics of the rebels: plucky Resistance heroine Charlotte; Coe, the titular turncoat, who turns traitor to serve his father, an admiral in the Imperial Navy; Coe’s handsome brother, Jack; stud pirate Lachance; and a small, quirky posse of “tinkers” led by the brilliant inventor Aunt Io, whose technological skills are key to Resistance victory. The robot boy Grave becomes a pawn in the struggle, adding an intriguing supernatural element to the plot. Fascinating, quasi-cinematic scenarios abound, from the Floating City of New York to the sadistic Crucible in which prisoners are confined to individual steel boxes that continually revolve, allowing no rest. Although this is light on technology and the science behind the inventions is hinted at rather than explained, there is a strong emphasis on female bravery and technical ability. The cast is a largely white one.
A fast read and a satisfying conclusion to an authentic steampunk trilogy. (Steampunk. 12 & up)