Date read: 14 August 2017
Published by Indie, August 2017
Verdict: Fun, solid read.
In the slums of BrightStone, Moon Children are worth less than the scrap they must collect to survive. It doesn’t matter that these abandoned half-breeds are part-Meridian with their ancestors hailing from the technologically advanced city that floats above the once-thriving, now plague-ridden BrightStone. Instead they are rejected by both their ancestral societies and forced to live on the outskirts of civilization, joining clans simply to survive. Not to mention their role as Tithe, leading the city’s infected citizens deep into the Pits where their disease can be controlled.
Nineteen-year-old Raggy Maggy is no different, despite the mysterious heart-shaped panel that covers her chest. Or at least she wasn’t… Not until her chance discovery of a Meridian-built clockwork dragon—and its murdered owner. When the Inquestors policing the city find Maggy at the scene of the crime, she quickly turns into their prime suspect. Now she’s all anyone can talk about. Even her clan leader turns his back on her, leading her to rely on an exiled doctor and a clanless Moon Child named Ghost to keep her hidden. In return, all she has to do is help them find a cure for the plague they believe was not exactly accidental. Yet doing so might mean risking more than just her life. It also might be the only key to uncovering the truth about the parents—and the past—she knows nothing about.
This was a solid, fun read, with a brilliant premise and world building I enjoyed a lot. While there were some flaws, I am still intrigued enough to want to read the next book in the series, whenever that will be published. As I am chronically bad at reading second books in series, this says something about how much I adored parts of this.
Set in an unspecified world, that is kind of steam punky, kind of dystopian, there is a (tropey) society with the rich (maybe alien?) upper class living on a floating city, while the middle class scramble to make a living on the ground and the lowest class is just trying to survive. The world is never really explained, as the main character – Mags – doesn’t really know much about the city’s history or political order. Mags is a Moon Child: some children turn into those when they are around 12, pale, with white hair, and mysteriously immune against rampant plague. She finds a clockwork dragon and sets into motion a frantic sequence of events where she is never quite sure what is going on or how she will survive the next day.
The story itself is in points predictable but always fun; it’s frantic pace was enough to keep me reading during a week where I was pre-occupied with other things. Mags is a fun character and many of the others of the fairly large cast of characters are brilliant.
My main problem was the fact that I thought that the first-person-narration didn’t really work here. Some of the metaphors used do not sound like things somebody like Mags, with very limited education (formal or informal), would ever use. I often thought that there was no way a young girl who grew up on the streets would know those things (would she really know what a waltz is and then use this term to explain how her climbing on rooftops feels like?). It took me out of the story and made it difficult to really connect to her.
But, overall, a really fun first installment of a series with plenty of loose ends that I cannot wait to be picked up again.
Also, where can I find myself a clockwork dragon, please?
I received an arc of this book curtesy of NetGalley and the author in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for that!