Review of Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina
Overview from www.bn.com: Book one of the bestselling Magnificent Devices series!
London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin's son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world.
At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire's talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It's not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices . . .
When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his . . . if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals . . .
Lady of Devices was special for me, in a way, and not because I am personally attached to the book. It was special—or at least different—because it is the first Steam punk novel that I have ever read.
Since I first read about this genre I have always been curious what one of its novels would be like so when a reader of Barnes and Noble’s blog recommended this book (and mentioned the fact that it was also free), I thought this would be a great way to see if this genre could appeal to me.
I love history and have always liked the Victorian era so it seemed like a natural fit. I still can’t say that I really understand what Steampunk is all about but I think I have a better idea.
So back to the book. The verdict is that I liked it a lot. It seems to be a blend of some form of alternate history where gasoline powered vehicles do not become the dominant means of transportation but rather those of steam.
Also, though Victorian standards still rule, women seem to have more options open to them in this version of London. Our heroine, Claire, is a smart and capable young lady of means who may not necessarily be the most attractive girl in London. Nevertheless, she knows what she wants to do with her life and it is not to marry some upper crust loser and live unhappily ever after. She wants to go to the university.
It seems like her mother will have the upper hand though and after her finishing school graduation she will be expected to make a suitable match. But everything changes when her father dies and leaves the family with next to nothing.
Claire is told to stay behind at their old home while her mother relocates their family. But when there old home is attached by those seeking vengeance against her father Claire is forced to move in with some ruffian children so that she can realize her dream of independence from her mother.
The story is moving and entertaining at the same time though I think I might have enjoyed it a little more if I understood more about this genre.
Claire is feisty and determined yet caring. Even when her friends let her down, she still chooses to believe in them. She was certainly a heroine who I felt invested in and wanted to succeed.
The novel itself doesn’t take too many huge leaps regarding the original feel of the period though much of the technology as well as the status of United States was different. This only made the story more interesting to me.
If you like history and are content with taking a few leaps of fantasy along with it, I think you might like this novel as well. And the best part? There wasn’t any objectionable material that I have encountered in some of the other books that I have review on here. I just might decide to read another of novel by this author in the near future. And I am definitely recommending this one.