Romance, political skullduggery and fantastical inventions giddily complicate a jewel heist.
Sixteen year-old French circus performer Rémy Brunel, a daredevil trapeze artist (and accomplished thief) in Victorian London, is tasked with stealing the Darya-ye Noor, a gem of extraordinary size and beauty. Rémy—nimble, clever and uncannily lucky—pulls off the feat on her first visit to the gem’s exhibition in the Tower of London, thanks to elderly Lord Abernathy, who accidentally smashes the gem’s security case as he collapses to the floor. Rémy assumes she’s been efficient, but the gem she’s stolen is a fake, a revelation that launches her into a caper more complex and dangerous than any she’s undertaken before. She must navigate dangerous, filthy London, enter into an uneasy (yet increasingly affectionate) alliance with Thaddeus Rec, a police detective also suspected of stealing the jewel, and outwit wealthy villains armed with steampunk-y weapons. The whole affair often feels like an episode of Doctor Who: It’s filled with running and exhilarating physical danger, many quippy, colorful characters and even some titanium suits strongly reminiscent of Cybermen. This is no bad thing. The plot groans a bit under the weight of all the twists and piled-on characters, but, like Rémy, it sticks a fairly satisfying landing in the end.
Readers will happily strap in for the ride, if only to see where it takes them. (Steampunk. 12-16)