Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 5 hours and 23 minutes (260 pages)
Publisher: Katina French
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: 3rd book in The Clockwork Republic series
Source: Audiobook through Audible.com
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
I got a copy of this audiobook from Audible.com, it was sent to me by the author to review. This was a decent steampunk fairytale retelling. It was basically a retelling of Snow White set in a steampunk circus in an alternate version of the US.
As mentioned above I listened to this on audiobook. The narrator was okay. Ironically she did a great job distinguishing between male voices (many female narrators have trouble with this) but all the female characters sounded the same. I had a very hard time telling whether it was Neve or Bella talking, they both sounded almost identical. This is a book I would recommend reading versus listening to.
Neve’s father was a great magician in Lang & Perrault’s World Famous Circus. After his death the circus started to decline. Neve is desperately trying to help Lang save the circus and is hoping some of her own magical abilities might help. However the current star act, the lovely but cold Queen of the Air, will stop at nothing to keep Neve from displacing her act from being displaced.
I enjoyed the circus setting and some of the clockwork devices throughout. I loved the addition of formulas and illusions that made up some of Neve’s magic act.
I thought the characters were a bit stereotypical and lacked some depth. Neve is overly sweet and seemed too naive to had grown up in a circus. While Neve does have some spunk, she was just too sweet, good, and innocent for a lifetime carnie.
The lead male character is known as The Prince of Blades. He is your typical “misunderstood rogue who has a sordid past, but really is a sweet guy” kind of male lead. Again he was okay to read about, but was a bit too good and his “sordid” past seemed a bit contrived.
The story itself was also very predictable with few twists and turns. It was just a very simple story, whose outcome was easily predicted from the beginning. The steampunk elements were pretty much limited to clockwork devices, airships, and some vague “formulae”. There wasn’t really any world-building around that theme.
The story is supposed to be a retelling of Snow White. While I thought it was an interesting effort, parts of the story felt like they were kind of forced into the Snow White setting (particularly the apple part at the ending). On the other-hand there were other parts of the story that were very cleverly done and really did a good job of paralleling the Snow White tale while still flowing naturally (for example Neve’s back story and how the Queen of Air was the evil Queen of the circus).
In the end this is one of those stories that was mildly entertaining and non-offensive. After reading it I thought “huh, well that was fine” but I wasn’t blown away or dying to read more about this world or these characters. It’s a quick and fun read, that is straight-forward and simple. There are some interesting elements and I liked the idea of retelling a fairy tale with a steampunk storyline.
Overall this was a quick and simple steampunk read. It reminded me a bit of Shelley Adina’s Magnificent Devices series. I would recommend this book to those who want to read a steampunk fairy tale retelling. Just don’t expect some elaborate story, this is a simple story with simple characters and a happy vibe.