Feisty teenage thief Maeko and her maybe-more-than-friend Chaff have scraped out an existence in Victorian London’s gritty streets, but after a near-disastrous heist leads her to a mysterious clockwork cat and two dead bodies, she’s thrust into a murder mystery that may cost her everything she holds dear.
Her only allies are Chaff, the cat, and Ash, the son of the only murder suspect, who offers her enough money to finally get off the streets if she’ll help him find the real killer.
What starts as a simple search ultimately reveals a conspiracy stretching across the entire city. And as Maeko and Chaff discover feelings for each other neither was prepared to admit, she’s forced to choose whether she’ll stay with him or finally escape the life of a street rat. But with danger closing in around them, the only way any of them will get out of this alive is if all of them work together
Never judge a book by it’s cover and this one really fits the line. I wasn’t really expecting much when I went into the book, and even the blurb didn’t make it sound that interesting, but this book was pretty interesting. The best part of the book is, of course, Maeko (yay for POC protagonist) who is a street rat in steampunk London and gets into a murder mess through a half clockwork cat. Wait, it gets better – she delves deeper into the murder situation to help out the handsome guy whose father is accused of it, and because she wants to earn some money. As the story goes on, we discover she does it out of a sense of empathy and because she doesn’t want a family to break.
Maeko is a tough-as-nails heroine, and McCormack brings that into focus quite well. She escapes prison twice, fights off a killer, solves the murder mystery and helps out everyone, even though she is viewed with derision by most of the characters. I loved how the plot took some interesting twists, and though the villain was obvious from the start, the way the things played out kept me interested. What wasn’t interesting was the love triangle – I don’t get Chaff and Ash just seems smitten because she is different, I feel. Maeko’s backstory was constructed well, and it showed her motivations for doing things. The ending was left open-ended and since I don’t know whether this is is a standalone or not, I am a bit put off. Anyway, I give this 3.5 stars.
Received an ARC from Entangled Publishing via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion or my review in any way.