In her first middle-grade novel, Trevayne (Coda and Chorus) introduces Jack Foster, a discontented boy who finds an otherworldly London populated by creatures mechanical and magical. To live in smoggy, brassy Londinium is to be damaged—either injured by the mechanics of industry or corroded by pollution—and rebuilt. To be complete and healthy ("pink," as a native observes of Jack) is the exception. This "Empire of the Clouds" is ruled by the mercurial Lady who sends Lorcan, her general and once her son, to fetch her a new human boy to love. Disguising himself as a spiritualist, Lorcan ingratiates himself with Jack's séance-obsessed mother, but Jack finds the doorway into Londinium on his own, where he befriends a windup girl, her physician-mechanic creator, and a trader in souls before he's forced to join the Lady's court. Trevayne's well-wrought prose and characters like Dr. Snailwater, who fixes those his city wounds, and Lorcan, whose villainy is tempered with a sad desperation to be loved, will keep readers invested. Ages 8–12. Author's agent: Brooks Sherman, the Bent Agency. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/19/2014 Release date: 05/01/2014 Genre: Children's
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