Series: Stand-alone (?)
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre: YA – Steampunk
Feisty teenage thief Maeko and her maybe-more-than-friend Chaff have scraped out an existence in Victorian London’s gritty streets, but after a near-disastrous heist leads her to a mysterious clockwork cat and two dead bodies, she’s thrust into a murder mystery that may cost her everything she holds dear.
Her only allies are Chaff, the cat, and Ash, the son of the only murder suspect, who offers her enough money to finally get off the streets if she’ll help him find the real killer.
What starts as a simple search ultimately reveals a conspiracy stretching across the entire city. And as Maeko and Chaff discover feelings for each other neither was prepared to admit, she’s forced to choose whether she’ll stay with him or finally escape the life of a street rat. But with danger closing in around them, the only way any of them will get out of this alive is if all of them work together.
THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT by Nikki McCormack sure sounds good on paper. A thief, a cat with a mechanized leg, a murder, and conspiracies all set in Victorian London. What’s not to like?! Eh, a few actually.
For me the lure of Steampunk novels is it’s unique and fantastical world building, It’s like the Industrial Revolution on steroids where the world is getting modernized exponentially on one hand, and on the other there’s an expectation for society to stay as is, keeping tradition and heeding to rules of conduct and class. Quite the contrast which turns the characters into mavericks.
Unfortunately THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT has close to none in terms of world building. Aside from mentions here and there of automated carriages, horses, etc. and the cat’s leg, I didn’t really feel I was in Steampunk Victorian London. The details of this world is left for us to construct and imagine which didn’t bode well with me.
The dialogue also didn’t feel authentic. Street urchins like Maeko has a way of speaking and some people might take it for granted but I am particular when it comes of word usage and “book accents” on my historical reads. Aside from the world, how people converse is another device authors use to take us back to a certain time period. No cockney accent here.
Now it’s not all that bad. I like the premise of THE GIRL AND THE CLOCKWORK CAT, it’s the kind of craziness that I enjoy reading. I love the chase, the process of solving the murder mystery, getting away from the bad guys, and redeeming some of the characters. Unfortunately the execution of the story fell short. Maeko could’ve been an interesting heroine to follow but she and the rest of the characters need depth, dimension, and layers to flesh them out.