Can the bites of mechanical dogs induce artificial rabies?
Charlotte, the 16-year-old daughter of Her Majesty’s royal surgeon, and her two friends are attacked and severely wounded by a pack of the vicious beasts while out on an illicit nighttime lark. With Peter and Jillian severely injured, she must defy her father by secretly studying his medical books and use her cunning and courage to discover the cause and cure before the symptoms cause death. While lemons temporarily alleviate the pains, an antidote is needed. Maddison weaves the proprieties and improprieties of late-Victorian courtly life (especially as applied to young women), Charlotte’s unwanted arranged marriage and her inventions into the rapidly paced plot. Detailed descriptions set cinematic scenes and reflect careful research of the times and place. All of the story threads—romance, cloud covers of rabid bats, a plot to kill the queen—are as skillfully drawn together as a surgeon’s stitches. Black-and-white spot drawings at the beginning of each chapter foretell the key component for the next episode.
This steampunk novel has it all: deceptions, a brainy and courageous girl, violence, inventions and mystery set in Victorian England. Charlotte’s tale is indeed incredible—in a good way. (Steampunk. 10-15)