Grey Haward has always detested the Chemists, the magicians-come-scientists who rule her small western town. But she has always followed the rules, taking the potion the Chemists ration out that helps the town’s people survive. A potion that Grey suspects she—like her grandfather and father—may not actually need.
By working at her grandfather’s repair shop, sorting the small gears and dusting the curio cabinet inside, Grey has tried to stay unnoticed—or as unnoticed as a tall, strong girl can in a town of diminutive, underdeveloped citizens. Then her best friend, Whit, is caught by the Chemists’ enforcers after trying to protect Grey one night, and after seeing the extent of his punishment, suddenly taking risks seems the only decision she can make.
But with the risk comes the reality that the Chemists know her family’s secret, and the Chemists soon decide to use her for their own purposes. Panicked, Grey retreats to the only safe place she knows—her grandfather’s shop. There, however, a larger secret confronts her when her touch unlocks the old curio cabinet in the corner and reveals a world where porcelain and clockwork people are real. There, she could find the key that may save Whit’s life and also end the Chemists’ dark rule forever.
In a world where trilogies and series are the fad, there's something to be said for a good standalone. I really like the way Evangeline was able to set up this complex and fantastical world, give us a story filled with action, and leave us with a good ending -- all in the span of one book.
I also love the concept of a Defenders and how they are triggered by standing up for or wanting to take the place for someone else. Curio City is sooo interesting. There are "porcies" -- porcelain people who are made to be pretty and there are the functional "tocks." Then, of course, we have have Blaise, the only one who really understands Grey in Curio City. I really like Blaise and Grey together -- they are a good, equally matched pair.
I think the only problem I had with it was that is was so intricate and so detailed, that I often found myself getting lost. It was a lot to take in, understanding the history and current state of two new worlds. And we had three story lines from three different characters (although Grey's and Blaise's were intertwined), which meant once I got a little comfortable in one spot, I was being moved along somewhere else.
These characters did a great job of making you feel. They all had distinct personalities that you either admired or or were disgusted by: Nettie, Lord Blueboy, Whit, Fantine, to name a few. Steampunk is not something I read a lot, but I think that fans of steampunk will enjoy this story.
Curio will be released January 5, 2016.
Thank you to Blink YA books for providing me with an advance reader's copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
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