A simple way to introduce this book would be to call it a retelling of the Cinderella story. That would even be accurate, as far as it goes. But it is so much more than that. This complex world with the kingdoms of Faerie and Esting so different from each other is an intriguing place. The folk from the Faerie kingdom are re-imagined in a way that shows them as distinctly nonhuman, however humanoid their appearance can be. The magic of Faerie and the mechanical, gear-driven inventions of Esting are as unlike as their creators. And there is Nicolette, our heroine - intelligent, inventive, and so lonely and mistreated since the deaths of her parents. Our hearts can't help but long for her success and happiness.
I love the descriptions of her mother's inventions, the little mechanical bugs that Nicolette called "buzzers." I can picture them darting about with the light flashing off the stained glass wings or shiny metal legs. The settings of the markets (day and night), the ballroom, and the Exposition transport the reader into this amazing world full of wonders such as clockwork horses and floating ships. And as Nick discovers her mother's workroom and dares to imagine a new life for herself away from the drudgery of caring for the Steps, our hopes grow along with hers.
I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys fairy tale reworkings, mixtures of magic and mechanics, and young adults who are brave enough to reach for their dreams.
The publisher was kind enough to supply a galley for me to read and review.