A historical adventure sports a steampunk veneer, like an undersea Murder on the Orient Express.
In an alternate 1908, Rosalind Wallace is summarily yanked from a visit with her aristocratic London friends when her American industrialist father demands her presence on the inaugural voyage of his Transatlantic Express. To her delight, both the flighty Lady Cecily and her charming brother, Charles, arrange to travel along. But first Charles mysteriously disappears, then Cecily is gruesomely murdered—and Rosalind realizes that she is trapped beneath the ocean in a deadly political game, with no one she can trust. Falksen (The Ourobouros Cycle) is a steampunk celebrity, but his first teen novel offers neither astonishing mechanisms nor inventive worldbuilding; aside from the vaguely described suboceanic railway, little distinguishes this from a generic “wallpaper historical.” Rosalind displays an oversupply of exceptionalism: a suffragist, pacifist, anti-imperialist who drives motorcars, loves reading, excels at math, and despises class privilege—although she more proclaims than acts upon her ideals. The narrative mostly tells rather than shows, and the characterizations rely heavily upon national and occupational clichés (mostly white and pretty with the possible exception of servants). Still, the plot is a frenetic thrill ride of plots and counterplots, daring escapes, grand gestures, and a conclusion hinting broadly at upcoming sequels. The large illustrations (not seen in final form), while cartoonish, are attractive; the delicate mechanical diagrams decorating chapter headings seem unrelated to the text.
Only for insatiable fans of the genre or author. (Steampunk. 12-18)