Claire Trevelyan is seventeen years old, a Blood (aristocrat) and bored out of her skull leading a sheltered life in which women are there to basically look pretty on their husband’s arms and lead the household. In fact, she may be lucky if she gets to choose her husband herself and doesn’t end up being married off by her snobbish mother.
She spends her days in a hated routine, wishing she was a Wit and allowed to study engineering at a proper university. With the unfortunate death of her father, her life crumbles and soon she is left with very little other than her wits, bright mind and penchant for chemistry and engineering. Once a resident of the best area of London during Queen Victoria’s reign, she ends up fending for herself in the slums, making her way back up aided by a cast of young miscreants and a scientist with a heart of gold.
But while Claire is busy making a new life for herself and her new family, danger lurks, for many from her former life aren’t quite ready for the change her actions may bring about in polite society.
Lady of Devices may sound like the umpteenth steampunk romance novel, but it isn’t really.
First of all, it sounds more romantic than it is. There are hints at a romance beginning to unfold but that’s pretty much it. It’s more of a coming-of-age story about a brilliant girl who, due to a series of unfortunate events, gets the life she dreamed off, albeit in totally different circumstances than she wished or hoped for.
And, of course, the trials and tribulations along with the small victories that lead up to this.
It has a good mix between the aristocracy and their social mannerisms and the lifestyles and composures of the lower classes and especially the interaction between both.
Contrary to many other examples of steampunk literature, this is something you could give to children to read as well.
The book does feel a lot like an introduction to the character and to a greater plot. Like it was an explanation of who Claire was at the beginning of the book and what made her into being the person that she is at the end. This doesn’t help the pace, which tends to dwindle at times.
Aside from that, it is an alright book, not the best or most original, but OK. If you’re looking for a bit of light reading with a lot of personal drama and a female lead, then this may be for you.