Author: A.W. Exley
Publication Date: March 24th, 2014
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
1836, a world of light and dark, noble and guild. The two spheres intersect when seventeen-year-old Allie Donovan is placed at the aristocratic St Matthews Academy. More at ease with a blade than a needle, she finds herself ostracised by the girls ad stalked by a Scottish lord intent on learning why she is among them.
She begins to suspect the underlying reasons when soldiers arrive to see her friend, Zeb, a mechanical genius. On the hunt for answers she breaks into his underground laboratory. There, Allie discovers he is not just constructing sentient mechanical creatures, he is building a devastating new weapon for the military.
The guilds want the weapon and Allie is trapped by ties of blood. She must obey the overlord of the guild and deliver up her friend, unless she can rely on the bonds of friendship, to save both their lives.
I love books that are different. Books that have their own personality. Books that do not sound generic or 'been there done that'. So when I read the blurb of this one before reading it, I immediately knew this was one worth the read. It also kind of helped that I totally fell in love with the feline-looking creature on the cover. (Don't judge me...It's cuteness cannot be helped...)
I do not normally use the word exquisite when doing reviews. But in some cases it is the exact word that best fits, and for this particular book that is exactly the case. The imagery and the world that was created and the way the characters seem to leap off the pages is just plain exquisite. I mean, the author did such a beautiful job weaving this tale that at the end I was almost speechless.
I absolutely adore the main character, Allie. She is a no-nonsense type of girl who just happens to love her weapons. What girl doesn't? Well...most of the other girls at St Matthew's for starters. I love the fact that Allie is so inherently different from those other girls, because it makes her stand out. She is so outspoken and tough and confident on the outside, but there is a bigger fight going on inside of her. She was born into a world where loyalty to your own is the only thing that really keeps you from certain death. But the friends she makes at St Matthews and the unfurling of a plot that might actually challenge her own personal morals could change her view regarding that loyalty, and could very well mean her life in the end.
Each character, situation, mechanical invention, and setting brings life to this story. They are all parts of a whole that has such depth and warmth and wonder to it. It is truly an awesome book. And I mean that in the true definition of the word.
I recommend this for anyone who loves fantasy. It will blow you away. Or at least it did me.
Books and writing have always been an enormous part of Anita's life. She survived school by hiding out in the library, with several thousand fictional characters for company. At university, she overcame the boredom of studying accountancy by squeezing in Egyptology papers and learning to read hieroglyphics.
Today, Anita writes steampunk novels with a sexy edge and an Egyptian twist. She lives in rural New Zealand surrounded by an assortment of weird and wonderful equines, felines, canine and homicidal chickens.