A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher’s chest: an illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog — donning the moniker Technician — to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner’s tyrannical laws. Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner’s son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father’s respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father’s elusive affection is worth chasing at all. Their game of cat and mouse takes an abrupt turn when Eliza, a skilled assassin and spy, arrives. Her mission is to learn the Commissioner’s secrets at any cost — even if it means betraying her own heart. When these uneasy allies discover the most dangerous secret of all, they must work together despite their differences and put an end to a deadly epidemic — before the Commissioner ends them first.
I’d seen the title of this book around before the cover was released and a lot of people seemed really excited for it. I didn’t know what it was about at all, so I sort of just let it sit on the outskirts of my radar. Then, my friends knocked some sense into me and made me find out what it’s actually about. Secret mechanical hearts, with queer characters sounded absolutely incredible and I definitely wanted to give it a shot. Trigger warnings: emotional and physical parental abuse, violence, blood
This book has a very simple world. At least it feels very simple. There’s complicated politics involved and relationships between places are strained, but overall it feels very simple. It’s not expanded much besides the two places. I usually love big, expansive worlds, but I really loved the the feel of this one. It tied so nicely with the characters and the plot. I dunno, I just found it so interesting.
I really loved Anna. She’s so absolutely fiery. She’s a mechanic and she’s good at what she does. She wants to fight and she wants to help people who need it. I also really liked Nathaniel. He has such a rough family life and he puts so much pressure on himself. But he’s so sweet and he’s so awkward. I liked Eliza, but I felt like her character could have been more. Her overall emotional development didn’t feel as smooth as Anna’s or Nathaniel’s. I understood where she was coming from and I get where she ended up, but it felt kind of choppy. I liked the idea of her character, I just had a hard time falling completely in love with how she was written.
I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the romance. But I honestly think that’s just personal preference. I would have liked for more time to be devoted to it. There are so many tiny plot threads woven for the three main characters, that some of them weren’t as strong as the others. It made some things feel underdeveloped and a bit stilted. I get why the characters made the decisions they did and I get why the ended up where they did, I just didn’t fully feel it in the emotional sense. The romance pulled Eliza through her emotional development, but more time was spent with Anna’s emotional development that wasn’t connected to the romance. Just, it wasn’t fully there for me.
I don’t know why, but I was surprised that this was a steampunk book. I don’t know why that didn’t connect in my head earlier haha. I have not had much luck finding steampunk books that I like, though I think I finally found one. I love the mechanical side of this book. I would have liked more mystery surrounding the illegal hearts, but they were still really, really cool. I loved Anna being a mechanic and I loved how much she loved it. I just find stuff like that so fascinating and I loved the concept of metal hearts.
I felt like there was potential to turn this into a really high fantasy novel, to really delve into the mystery’s of this world. There was a lot of secrets and a lot of unknown. The story decided to focus on what was right in front of it and I think it really worked for it. Anna, Eliza, and Nathaniel focused on what was right in front of them. The things they could tangibly fight and the things that would make things better for them. The plot didn’t get too big, which I think really worked for the book. It was what it was and I love books that don’t pretend to be anything but what they are. It was more focused on the character’s and their development, and I am all for good emotional development.
I loved the queer rep. The words asexual and aromantic were actually on the page and there was a conversation about them, about labels and feelings and sexuality. It was really great. Plus, there’s a f/f romance, and while it didn’t hit all the marks for me, it still love any and all f/f romances.
Overall, this book is fascinating. I might have had a few issues with it, but I still really enjoyed it. All the aspects that this book brought to the table meshed really well together. I would definitely read a companion novel of any sorts, because I feel like this world could have a lot more stories to tell.
Thank you for reading!