A series opener, Crilley’s steampunk adventure follows an unlikely duo to the underworld of Victorian London.
Coldly rational and from the bad part of town, Tweed is 17 when his father is kidnapped. Headstrong and highborn, Octavia is about the same age, only her mother has been missing a year, so she has had more time to gather facts on the likely culprits. A nebulous Ministry is at the center of their suspicions, as are the resurrected characters of Professor Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes and a nefarious mastermind. Octavia’s father turns a blind eye to her comings and goings, and Tweed has no mother, but the two receive help from a mildly entertaining couple Tweed and his father know. This seemingly low-bred pair of lovebirds adds one of the few human touches to a story that is too full of gadgets and machinations for most readers to keep track of. The primary action of the book is a break-in at the Ministry beneath London that Tweed and Octavia execute with success, only to find all is not what they expected. Though the style of writing is simple and engaging enough, the story itself goes in too many directions to follow, leaving open too many loose ends for readers to know exactly what they are looking for in the next installment.
Too complicated to engage. (Steampunk. 12 & up)