Cross concludes her steampunk adventure series with a fourth book wrapping up the fates of her paranormal band of friends who must retrieve one of their own from the otherworldly Aether.
Moving back and forth between 1897 London and the shadowy Aetheric realm, the storyline is fueled by separation: Griffin’s torn from Finley by the evil Garibaldi, who’s torturing him in the Aether, and Mila flees Jack Dandy’s house, confused by her feelings for him and determined to discover her place in the world. The action’s divided between their stories. Finley (aided by her friends and a special Tesla-designed suit) “dies” to seek Griffin in the Aether. Readers explore that shadowy world with Finley, who encounters there her long-lost father and an old nemesis, Lord Felix August-Raynes. Meanwhile, Mila’s story creates provocative paradoxes—she’s machine-turned-human, child-becoming-woman with heartaches (will she ever fit in?)—likely to engage readers pondering their own futures and identities. Mila’s forthright questions, especially about male-female hypocrisy and double standards (why is it fine for men to enjoy lovers; why do women downplay their intelligence before men?) resonate, making her an engaging favorite in a tale that occasionally feels overpopulated with characters and stories seeking closure.
Cross’ fans will enjoy this awfully tidy—yet still-satisfying—ending to an intriguing, fast-paced series. (Steampunk. 13 & up)