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From The Guide: Steampunk for Tweens and Teens

cremer_inventor's secretAirships, automatons, futuristic gadgets, alternate history, and action galore: these are some of the key elements of the speculative-fiction subgenre known as steampunk. All recommended by The Horn Book Guide, these current novels (plus a new illustrated collection of works by genre-influencer and -precursor H. G. Wells) will satisfy devoted steampunk fans and win over new ones.

—Katrina Hedeen
Assistant Editor, The Horn Book Guide

Cremer, Andrea  The Inventor’s Secret
372 pp.     Philomel     2014     ISBN 978-0-399-15962-6

YA  In an alternate-nineteenth-century America (in which England won the Revolutionary War), sixteen-year-old Charlotte lives in hiding with other Resistance children. Seeking rebel allies, she and her friends infiltrate Empire high society, where they uncover life- and potentially world-changing secrets. Charlotte is a likable, realistic protagonist; snappy dialogue, imaginative world-building, steampunk elements, and romance will spark readers’ interest. An unresolved ending hints at (welcome) future installments.

Crilley, Paul  The Osiris Curse: A Tweed & Nightingale Adventure
295 pp.     Pyr/Prometheus    2013     ISBN 978-1-61614-857-7

YA  The crisp dialogue between Tweed and Nightingale (The Lazarus Machine) — romantically entangled teenage secret agents — is this second volume’s standout feature. A complex mystery springing from inventor Nikola Tesla’s murder is set in an alternate-Victorian-era world filled with airships, deathrays, a mysterious civilization dwelling below the earth, and plenty of action, albeit of the imaginative rather than plausible sort.

Cross, Kady  The Girl with the Windup Heart
396 pp.     Harlequin Teen     2014     ISBN 978-0-373-21119-7

YA  Steampunk Chronicles series. Finley dies in order to enter the Aether and save her love, Griffin, who is being held captive by his (dead) archenemy, Garibaldi. Meanwhile, Mila (formerly an automaton, now a girl) decides to run away in order to break free from her criminal caretaker, Jack. Cross’s fifth series entry is filled with bold characters, overwrought situations, passionate romances, and dastardly deeds.

Gratz, Alan  The League of Seven
333 pp.     Tor/Starscape     2014     ISBN 978-0-7653-3822-8

Gr. 4–6  Illustrated by Brett Helquist. After Manglespawn (monsters that were imprisoned underground) infiltrate the Septemberist Society’s headquarters and brainwash Archie’s parents, Archie attempts to save them and learns secrets about his origins in the process. Set in an alternate-1875 America where Native Americans and “Yankees” live in peace and harmony but Thomas Edison and his “lectricity” are frightening entities, this trilogy-opener promises action while it challenges readers to rethink history.

H. G. Wells
407 pp.     Running     2013     ISBN 978-0-7624-4444-1

YA  Illustrated by Zdenko Basic. Steampunk series. Wells’s innovative contributions to science fiction are celebrated in this collection that brings together the first novel about time travel (The Time Machine), the first to dramatize an alien invasion (The War of the Worlds), and an especially eerie short story about how disabilities are perceived (“The Country of the Blind”). Illustrator Basic’s precise, haunting pictures add a steampunk vibe to Wells’s imaginative vision.

Hamilton, Kersten  The Mesmer Menace
130 pp.     Clarion     2013      ISBN 978-0-547-90568-6

Gr. 4–6  Illustrated by James Hamilton. Gadgets and Gears series. It’s the early twentieth century, and Wally Kennewickett’s genius parents are called away to stop the evil hypnotist Mesmers from controlling the minds of those in power. While they’re away, the Mesmers infiltrate the Kennewickett inn/lab, and it’s up to Wally, his dachshund Noodles, and the house automatons to stop them. Narrated by Noodles, the illustrated story is a lively steampunk escapade.

Kirby, Matthew J.  The Lost Kingdom
348 pp.     Scholastic     2013     ISBN 978-0-545-27426-5

Gr. 4–6  Billy Bartram joins his naturalist dad on an airship expedition through the eighteenth-century American wilderness to find a lost Welsh kingdom. Billy must prove his worth as the group is tracked by French soldiers and threatened by a savage bear-wolf. Weaving together historical figures and legendary tales, the steampunk fantasy provides an interesting take on the time period; an author’s note explains the liberties taken.

May, Elizabeth  The Falconer
382 pp.  Chronicle     2014     ISBN 978-1-4521-1423-1

YA  Lady Aileana Kameron is the Falconer, a fae-hunting warrior bent on avenging her mother’s murder by a vicious faery. She struggles to balance the niceties of nineteenth-
century Scottish nobility and her violent purpose as she begins a romance with the mysteriously exiled Daoine Sith, Kiaran. The flashy combination of steampunk technologies and Scottish faery lore will draw many to the new trilogy.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. These reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please click here.

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