The year is 1893, and war is brewing in the First American Kingdom. But Claire Emerson has a bigger problem. While her father prepares to reveal the mighty weapon he’s created to showcase the might of their province, St. Cloud, in the World’s Fair, Claire is crafting a plan to escape. Claire’s father is a sought-after inventor, but he believes his genius is a gift, granted to him by his daughter’s touch. He’s kept Claire under his control for years. As St. Cloud prepares for war, Claire plans to claim her life for herself, even as her best friend, Beatrix, tries to convince her to stay and help with the growing resistance movement that wants to see a woman on the throne. At any cost. When her father’s weapon fails to fire on the fair’s opening day, Claire is taken captive by Governor Remy Duchamp, St. Cloud’s young, untried ruler. Remy believes that Claire’s touch bestows graces he’s never had, and with his governing power weakening and many political rivals planning his demise, Claire might be his only and best ally. But the last thing that Claire has ever wanted is to be someone else’s muse. Still, affections can change as quickly as the winds of war. And Claire has a choice to make: Will she quietly remake her world from the shadows—or bring it down in flames?
Historical fiction and I have a rocky relationship. I’ve found a few that I’ve absolutely adored, but I tend to be really picky about which ones I liked. So, going into this one, I wasn’t sure where my opinion would land. But, it had such an interesting concept. A girl, perhaps with magical abilities, torn between helping her father or helping the Governor who’s taken her captive. Or finally helping herself. Plus, there was the intrigue of the World’s Fair and all the inventions it would hold. It sounded really, really interesting, and I wanted to give it a try. Trigger warnings: parental abuse (physical and emotional)
I hate saying that I didn’t love a book, but I didn’t love this book. Yes, it was interesting, but there were just a good number of things that I didn’t particularly love.
I’ll start of with the things I did like, though! One of them was the writing. It felt so smooth and it made it easy to fly through the book.
Another thing that I liked was the Fair and the inventions inside it. I would have loved for those things to be even more prevalent in the book, but they were still fascinating!
I also loved Beatrice, who is Claire’s best friend. She’s a queer inventor, who’s close to reaching flight with one of her inventions. She was just an all around great character.
Alright, moving onto the things that I didn’t love as much. I felt like this book moved both too fast and too slow. I think I was expecting for something more explosive. I thought there would be more of the inventions, more emphasis on Claire’s supposed gift. But, I felt like those things were on the back burner for most of the book. I felt like they were lingering questions instead of aspects integrated into the book. This made it frustrating to watch where Claire’s story went, because I thought that there could be so much more to it. Though, that’s just my personal opinion!
Another thing that really threw me off was the romance. When the word “love” was thrown out there I was floored. I felt like there was no romantic connection happening at all, and suddenly love was being talked about. I felt like there was barely even a friendship. It was frustrating because I didn’t get why Claire’s loyalties fell where they did. Really, I felt like the romance didn’t need to be there at all and I didn’t get why it was included. I think it could’ve been a great one, but I felt like the development wasn’t really there.
I’m realizing that there were a lot of things about this book that frustrated me, haha. It felt kind of like a modgepodge of a few different plot points. There was Claire’s father, Claire’s captivity with the Governor, the politics at play, Claire’s supposed powers, and the inventions that needed to be completed. I felt like they struggled for attention and the focus should have been on only one or maybe a few of them.
All in all, this book wasn’t quite for me. But, that doesn’t mean it won’t be for you! If you like inventions and historical fiction and political intrigue, then I urge you to check this book out!