A good concept suffers from poor execution in this steampunk fairy tale.
Noli lives in 1901 Los Angeles, in an alternative Victorian era that allows for steam-powered flying cars and airships, in keeping with steampunk conventions. Caught flying a car without a license, she’s sent to a school in San Francisco that turns out to discipline its students with torture, including waterboarding. There she finds a fairy garden with an old oak tree and inadvertently wishes herself into fairyland. But danger lurks there, too. The fairies need to find a mortal with the “spark” to sacrifice every seven years, or their world will die. Noli fits the bill. Fortunately her best friend turns out to be a fairy prince determined to save her. Noli loves V, the prince, but she’s also attracted to Kevighn, the huntsman. Frequent redundancies and awkward phrasing, coupled with poor transitions, make the prose difficult to follow. Despite the life-or-death dilemma (solved through an absurd coincidence) in fairyland, the narrative flounders, focusing on Noli’s constant indecision between her two lovers (never mind that she firmly decides several times). Lazear emphasizes the difficulties women had in Victorian times quite well, but despite corsets worn on the outside, the clever steampunk angle disappears early. Sadism in the school and torrid if clothed scenes that border on soft porn in the fairyland power much of the narrative.
Here's hoping for more punk and less steam in the planned sequels. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)