In an alternative history tale, sixteen year old Verity finds a job as a governess in New York for a wealthy family – a family of Magisters, meaning they have the ability to use magic. There’s also a rebelling happening, a group of citizens without magic inventing machines so they can no longer be controlled by the Magisters. First Verity becomes friends with some of the group members, then suddenly she’s a spy for them. She believes in their cause but not their belief that all Magisters are bad, as the family she works for are nice and caring and actually seem sympathetic to the cause as well. With every new secret, Verity finds herself in more danger, and closer to having to expose her own secret.
I haven’t read too many steampunk novels or historical novels that differ greatly from actual history so I was really excited for the chance to read this one. It was also the Uppercasebox book for August so that gave me one more reason to be excited for it, as I have yet to be disappointed by the choices each month.
Verity was a character I liked straight away. Even if she hadn’t gotten involved with the rebellion, I still would have liked her and thought she was a brave young woman. To pack up and go to New York without a confirmed job, alone, it was something I couldn’t do. I loved her passion for books and how dedicated to her job she was. There were so many great characters in this book. Henry, Verity’s boss, was both mysterious and adorably scatter-brained. The Rebel Mechanics were earnest and it was easy to get caught up in their outcry for a better world for everyone without magic, especially when Alec would start talking about his machines. I really liked the growing flirtation between him and Verity, they were cute, and I liked the friendship between Verity and Alec’s sister Lizzie.
Romance was present throughout the book but it never overtook the plot. It was very light, flirty, more of a ‘he is cute and smart and I am interested’ than instalove. I ended up really liking that as it allowed me to focus on Verity and her journey instead of her journey being linked with a love interest.
The alternative history was really interesting. I enjoyed the idea that magic could have meant that the US never gained independence and all the changes and consequences that came with it. It was something new and it made sense that people with magic would be classed above people without in that case. It also made sense that there would still be people that wanted independence, free of magic.
The writing was also light and easy to read. I ended up finishing the book in no time. There were lighthearted moments, tense moments, laugh out loud moments, touching moments. Everything contributed to this being a book I wanted to finish, was eager to finish, because I wanted to know how it would end, if my predictions were right, if the rebellion would make a dent in the first book.
This was the first book in a new series and it did its job very well. It set up the world, the characters, laid out the stakes, and set up the sides for the eventual last battle.