Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 384 pages
Release Date: May 8, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Metal and Lace series
Source: eGalley through NetGalley.com
Rating: 3/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through NetGalley. I was excited when I heard that this was a blend of steampunk and Arthurian legend. While I enjoyed the idea behind the world, I did have some trouble engaging with the story and I had some trouble with the writing style.
Vivienne is a handmaiden to Guinivere. When we join the story Guinevere is set to marry King Arthur in a day or two. Vivienne also has a secret life as an apprentice to Merlin where she is learning to build many different steampunk devices. Although Camelot is protected by a massive spell, the community as a whole has turned away from magic in favor of the mechanical arts. When Morgan le Fey shows up she causes all sorts of trouble in Camelot. As tension builds Merlin and Vivienne struggle to build a weapon to save Camelot from Morgan’s power.
I wanted to love this book, I was all set to love this book, I was super excited to read this…but the reality was that I had a lot of trouble focusing on the story and reading it…it was hard to picture the surroundings and hard to stay engaged.
This book is built on a very cool concept and there are some very interesting characters in this book. However, the writing itself leaves a lot to be desired. The descriptions could have been better and the writing was a bit clumsy and didn’t flow well.
Vivienne has potential to be an interesting character. She is straddling two worlds; that of a handmaiden where her future is one of marriage and that of an inventor’s apprentice. The two don’t mix well. Still despite all of this I had trouble engaging with Vivienne, she just seemed somewhat passive at points and again with the lack of description it was hard to really get pulled in to her story.
Merlin is portrayed as a sorcerer who has struggled with an addiction to magic in the past, but is trying to forge a new kingdom built on mechanical wonders. He was probably the most interesting character of the bunch. He is incredibly flawed, Camelot is dependent on him for magical protection which is hard to balance with his need to not do magic. He is quirky and gruff but quick to recognize Vivienne’s mechanical genius when he sees it.
Vivienne’s love interest in the book is Lancelot’s squire, Marcus. Again, Marcus (like Vivienne) comes off as a bit blah to me. I never really engaged with him. I thought he was very inconsistent. One moment he is talking about his dedication to becoming a knight and the next he is asking Vivienne to run away with him. He’s very off and on with his commitments.
The plot is very straightforward, there are a couple twists and turns…but they are pretty easy to predict.
Overall this ended up being an okay read. There was so much I wanted to love about this book. I love Arthurian retellings and steampunk, and it was interesting to see the two blended. I was disappointed in how much I had to struggle to get through this book. It took me a long time to read because I honestly kept either falling asleep or wandering off to do something else because this book wouldn’t hold my attention. I will not be reading more books in this series. It’s a cool idea, but just not executed all that well.