Seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth has only one hope left: finding her late father’s most prized invention, the Illuminator. It’s been missing since the day of the mysterious flash—a day that saw the sun wiped out forever over England.
But living in darkness is nothing new to Eyelet. She’s hidden her secret affliction all of her life—a life that would be in danger if superstitious townspeople ever guessed the truth. And after her mother is accused and executed for a crime that she didn’t commit, the now-orphaned Eyelet has no choice but to track down the machine that was created with the sole purpose of being her cure.
Alone and on the run, she finally discovers the Illuminator—only to see a young man hauling it off. Determined to follow the thief and recover the machine, she ventures into the deepest, darkest, most dangerous part of her twisted world.
The world of Lumiere is a bit steampunk-ish, a bit post-apocalyptic. Eyelet lives in Brethren, a part of the Commonwealth in England, that is now under a constant twilight thanks to an accident. The world is endangered by toxic gases, that appear on the outskirts and are basically like the acid fog thingy in The Catching Fire, only it can also give rise to strange creatures. This world, though advanced in science, is also very fearful of magic and maladies like seizures. It witch-hunt in a sci-fi world, and Eyelet being a victim of seizures is in a very dangerous position. When on the run, she meets Urlick, who stole her father’s invention.
Urlick is a young man who was disfigured at birth, and his appearance is slightly unnerving for Eyelet, but she doesn’t linger on that. She at first finds him infuriating because he basically locks her in his house, for fear of the acid fog outside and because he is hiding things in his secret laboratory. She, on the other hand, is hiding her condition and her purpose for being there. The first half is more languid in pace, with her discovering the secrets of him and his house, and the second gets fast-paced, where they set out to get information about the machine. As characters, both get their POV, but their individual voices are sometimes similar, and hers is especially bogged down by the details of every damn thing – making for a very confusing and slightly irritating read. It also makes the story longer, considering the plot wanders aimlessly in the first half, and the second doesn’t really end properly; yes, my folks, it ends on sort of a cliffhanger, which I won’t divulge, but yeah, makes you want that next book really bad.
The world-building is the highlight of the book, and much of it is devoted to setting things up. I actually didn’t mind that as much as how much Eyelet explains things. Seriously, she was irritating to read through, and Urlick is slightly misogynistic, even underestimating her at times when not needed. I get that she is frail, and easily scared, but the girl is smart and giving her credit when there is due, but then saying ‘for a girl’ really hit a nerve with me. The romance doesn’t serve much for the plot, and the few scenes between them really come out of nowhere, feeling like a filler. So, I would recommend the book for the world-building and the story, and the hope of an exciting sequel.
Received a free galley from Skyscape via Netgalley; this does not influence my opinions or review.