When fifteen-year-old Edna Mather tears an expensive and unfamiliar pocket watch off her little brother’s neck, he crumbles into a pile of cogs right before her eyes. Horrified, Edna flees for help, but encounters Ike, a thief who attempts to steal the watch before he realizes what it is: a device to power Coglings—clockwork changelings left in place of stolen children who have been forced to work in factories.
Desperate to rescue her brother, Edna sets off across the kingdom to the hags’ swamp, with Ike in tow. There, they learn Coglings are also replacing nobility so the hags can stage a rebellion and rule over humanity. Edna and Ike must stop the revolt, but the populace believes hags are helpful godmothers and healers. No one wants to believe a lowly servant and a thief, especially when Ike has secrets that label them both as traitors. Together, Edna and Ike must make the kingdom trust them or stop the hags themselves, even if Ike is forced to embrace his dark heritage and Edna must surrender her family.
When I started Cogling, I was drawn in by the steampunk world created – where magic and automation seemed to be coexisting, but together being made into a force of evil. Edna, aware of this thanks to Ike, whom she comes across when he tries to steal from her, recruits his help to rescue her brother from the factories he has been kidnapped to. They have one adventure after another, which was pretty interesting, and even after the rescue, their troubles are not at an end. Now they have to rid the kingdom of the hags who are the source of the evil, but they seem to have grown very powerful while humans have been trodding over them. Our heroine saves the day thanks to her own latent magic powers (not a spoiler – it was obvious enough from the start) and there is a HEA.
While the book was quite engaging in the start, I grew annoyed by our protagonist, Edna, who repeats the same litany continuously. Yes, I get she wanted to find her brother, then complain to the king about the hags, but damn if I wasn’t tired of that repetition every 10 pages. Then came the troubles she got into because of her naivete – there is something about not knowing things, and then there is willfully getting into danger without preparation. Ike was a curious character, and while his and her romance developed much later, I couldn’t help but feel weird over that first forced kiss – why was it even there, when it served nothing to the plot? Other things like characters thought to be dead returning, and the overall state of the kingdom that was nicely ignored as the book progressed, made my liking for the book reduce.
The ending seemed pretty rushed after the climax, and considering this seems to be a standalone, not much near resolution. What happened to the other non-human creatures? How long was the king under control? The kingdom itself was it some seriously bad shape, and we are to believe that a happy ending of a wedding was all that was happy about it? Really? Not much satisfied with how the book was constructed either – it was never explained how exactly did the humans subdue all the other creatures. If this was a series, I would have perhaps been a bit more mollified with that ending, but as such, this book didn’t make me feel good at the ending.
Received a free galley from Curiosity Quills Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.