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Book: “The Wonder Engine” by T. Kingfisher
Publishing Info: Argyll Productions, March 2018
Where Did I Get this Book: from the library!
Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat
Book Description: Pull three people out of prison–a disgraced paladin, a convicted forger, and a heartless assassin. Give them weapons, carnivorous tattoos, and each other. Point them at the enemy.
What could possibly go wrong?
In the sequel to CLOCKWORK BOYS, Slate, Brenner, Caliban and Learned Edmund have arrived in Anuket City, the source of the mysterious Clockwork Boys. But the secrets they’re keeping could well destroy them, before the city even gets the chance…
Previously Reviewed: “Clockwork Boys”
Review: So, I actually read these books pretty much back to back. But, due to blog scheduling and wanting to get more timely releases out during the month they were published, here we are about a few months later with this review. Before getting into anything else, I will say that I recommend all readers of this duology to read the books this way, one after another. They’re both short and, all things considered, they read better as a longer, single story than as two separate works.
The journey to Anuket City was fraught with peril. Frankly, Slate didn’t think she and her band of criminals were even going to make it. Which was part of the reason she agreed to go. But now they’ve arrived, Slate must not only deal with the ruthless crime boss who’s out for her head, but she and the others still must discover the source of the powerful Clockwork Boys. On top of all of this, Slate isn’t quite sure what to do with her increasing feelings for the proud and proper paladin, Caliban.
Given that I already stated that I think these two books should be read as one, and the fact that I rated the first book fairly high, it’s probably no surprise that I enjoyed this second book. After some of the events of the first book (and, honestly, the title itself??), I felt like the mystery to the creation of the Clockwork Boys was pretty obvious, however. There were a few other surprises along the way, but I feel like the astute reader will be able to predict most of them. The way they all worked together, however, I thought was interesting. Most of these reveals also drove character growth in our two main characters, so I think they were largely successful.
The reveal regarding Slate’s history with the city was, perhaps, a bit underwhelming as a hole. But again, when her past caught up to her, there were a good number of exciting action sequences, as well as some self-reflection on her part. When the duology began, Slate was very cavalier with her own life, seeming resigned, almost eager, for her own death. Here, she not only has to come to terms with the fact that she does want to live, but that she may need to change the way she has been living as well (though not so much as to give up forgery!).
For his part, Caliban has been dealing with a crisis of faith, a loss of belief in not only himself but the emptiness in his being where his god has resided. But during their time in Anuket City, Caliban begins to once again find the value in himself and the unique abilities that he still brings to the world. At times, these are cruel, harsh choices. So his worth is not only in being able to commit challenging acts but in shouldering the weight of decisions other may have crumpled beneath.
I also really liked the romance that develops between Slate and Caliban. They are both adults with full lives behind them. This means they bring their own baggage to any potential relationship. But it also means they have to learn to bend again, to understand what compromises they are willing to make to slot their own lives in alongside another.
This was a really fun book (both this and the first one). It was action-packed and read so quickly! I finished this second book up in two sessions, and probably could have done one, but for the pesky children in my house. Fans of T. Kingfisher’s work will definitely enjoy this. And anyone looking for a fun, light fantasy read should check this out!
Rating 8: Some of the twists were a bit too easy to predict, but the fun and heart of the story make it well worth the read!
“The Wonder Engine” can be found on these Goodreads lists: Speculative Fiction Heist/Caper Stories and Indie Authors Everybody Should Read.