Legacy of the Clockwork Key
In Legacy of the Clockwork Key, Meg, a young Victorian woman, loses her parents and all her worldly possessions in a tragic fire and becomes a servant to the mysterious Baron Rathford. When she discovers a secret room in the baron’s apartment, she finds a book detailing the works of the Secret Order of Modern Amusementists, a society her parents and grandfather belonged to, as well as an account of a terrible machine Meg herself unknowingly holds the key to destroying. With the help of Will, a gypsy groomsman, and former Order members Lucinda and Oliver, she must conquer a set of elaborate mechanical challenges to find the location of the machine, all the while eluding the people who wish to see her efforts — or herself — terminated.
When I first read the description of this book, I thought it sounded like just another steampunk novel, and unfortunately I was proved correct in many respects; the plot was almost dull in its predictability. What set this book apart was the originality and whimsy of the Amusementists and their mechanical creations: a replica Stonehenge that emerges from the ground, a sea battle between a ship and a mechanical leviathan, and many other wonders, all amazingly described. Overall, I could see a little sloppiness in plot and character development, but the quality of the descriptions and a couple of interesting subplots served to somewhat balance it out. I would recommend this book for girls ages 13-16 but perhaps not for true fans of the steampunk genre.