The Turncoat’s Gambit

Written by Andrea Cremer
Review by Kathryn Voigt

This is the finale to the Inventor’s Secret series by Andrea Cremer, following The Conjurer’s Riddle. Set in an alternate 19th century, from North America’s eastern shores to New Orleans, The Turncoat’s Gambit is a young adult novel that re-visions historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy into a beloved steampunk that whispers new technology into the old in a work of page-turning gadgetry and glorious revolution guaranteed to rivet young readers.

Ratted out by one unidentified traitor, 16-year-old Charlotte finds herself on the run from the Empire and the Resistance, choosing instead to seek refuge with the unaffiliated pirate, Jean-Baptiste Lachance. Aboard the flying Perseus, Charlotte, accompanied by confidents Grave, Linnet, Meg, and love interest, Jack, intends to lay low in a small, seaside town chosen by Lachance and tucked safely away in neutral, pirate territory. But their plan goes awry when Grave is captured, vilified, and tortured by the Empire as the true other. Unable to withstand injustice and committed to righting this wrong, Charlotte’s deep connection and empathy toward the mystical machine-boy leads her to plot a route straight to the heart of the revolution.

Caught between her rift with the Resistance and the blackmailing ways of the Empire, Charlotte’s courage, compassion and conviction draw together the spirituality of Meg, the steely elegance of Linnet, and Charlotte’s lineage of regal women into a finely chiseled heroine crafted specifically to appeal to the 21st-century young woman. Charlotte’s improbable crew proves yet again that friendship and American individualism win out over the political machine every time.