Title: Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times
Author: Emma Trevayne
There are doorways, and doorways, and Jack Foster is about to discover the difference between the former and the latter. Jack lives in London—the son of a rich family, being groomed to take over the family business in metals. But in Londinium, a world a breath away from his own, the Lady wants him as her son. And what the Lady wants, she always gets . . .
This is a steampunk fantasy with a unique take on various bits of mythology. It’s packed with strange gadgets and stranger people, including mechanical faeries and a wind up girl. I particularly liked how the Gearwing fit into all of it. The steampunk elements merge seamlessly with magic.
The characters are equally compelling. Jack is a boy who likes gadgets, suddenly thrust into a world where gadgets have more life than he ever expected. But his gifts are subtle and barely present—he’s only The Chosen One because the Lady chose him. And being chosen by the Lady is as much a curse as a blessing.
She scowled, her face ugly for an instant. “Tell me, little Jack, is perfection too much to ask for?”
Oh yes, the Lady is the perfect blend of childlike joy and destructive malice, and she goes from one to the other in a blink.
Set against the Lady’s temperamental mood swings, we have Beth, the wind-up girl. The one who was built to be as close to perfection as possible, who even fools Jack until he finds her key and gives it a few turns. Beth is completely unflappable, and she has a whimsical side that often gets her into trouble.
I was also pleased with how the plot continued to surprise me. The story continued to set up expectations only to go sideways to them. I won’t talk about it in detail to avoid spoilers, but the ending was particularly satisfying. Jack has a heart and a conscience, but also uses his head, and he doesn’t take on a guilt trip for things that are ultimately the consequences of other people’s bad choices.
Overall this was a great read. The book tells a complete story, though I do wonder what kind of a reaction Jack will face as he continues his journey, so I wouldn’t be averse to a followup. I rate this book Recommended.