Wednesday, December 30, 2015

ARC Review; Curio by Evangeline Demark

Author: Evangeline Denmark
Series:  Blink
Publication:  Blink (January 5, 2016)

Description: Grey Haward has always detested the Chemists, the magicians-come-scientists who rule her small western town. But she has always followed the rules, taking the potion the Chemists ration out that helps the town’s people survive. A potion that Grey suspects she—like her grandfather and father—may not actually need.

By working at her grandfather’s repair shop, sorting the small gears and dusting the curio cabinet inside, Grey has tried to stay unnoticed—or as unnoticed as a tall, strong girl can in a town of diminutive, underdeveloped citizens. Then her best friend, Whit, is caught by the Chemists’ enforcers after trying to protect Grey one night, and after seeing the extent of his punishment, suddenly taking risks seems the only decision she can make.

But with the risk comes the reality that the Chemists know her family’s secret, and the Chemists soon decide to use her for their own purposes. Panicked, Grey retreats to the only safe place she knows—her grandfather’s shop. There, however, a larger secret confronts her when her touch unlocks the old curio cabinet in the corner and reveals a world where porcelain and clockwork people are real. There, she could find the key that may save Whit’s life and also end the Chemists’ dark rule forever.

My Thoughts: Evangeline Denmark's new fantasy created an interesting steampunk sort of world. The main characters are Grey Haward, Whitland Bryacre, and Blaise Amintore. The story is told from each of their viewpoints.

The story begins in Mercury City which is under control of the chemists who have put all sorts of restrictions in place. The citizens in Mercury City are dependent on a potion supplied by the chemists to stave off the starvation trait. When Whit is punished for a curfew violation and touching Grey, he is punished leading Grey to share her dose of potion with him.

Grey's father and grandfather don't need the potion because they are Defenders. Grey has always taken it because her mother is not a Defender. Because they are Defenders, they have drawn the particular attention of a Chemist named Adante. When he learns that Grey has shared her potion he wants to study her. Her grandfather protects her as she runs away to his shop where she is sent into a strange world inside a curio cabinet.

The world inside the cabinet is inhabited by porcies who are made of porcelain and are the upper classes and tocks who are clockwork and are the working classes. The world is controlled by Lord Blueboy who is interested in Grey and wants to add her to his collection of beautiful things. Blaise, another human, is leading the revolution against the porcies. Their Defender marks call to each other and they fall in love.

Meanwhile, while Grey is in the curio cabinet trying to survive the evil intentions of Lord Blueboy and trying to find a way home, Whit falls into the company of Mercury City's rebels as he becomes a potions dealer. He meets twins Marina and Maverick and has his own run-ins with Adante. He also falls for Marina.

These plot threads do eventually come back together when Grey finds a way to escape the curio cabinet bring Blaise and his secrets with her.

I liked the world building especially in the world inside the curio cabinet which was filled with interesting steampunk inventions. Generally, I thought the story had a pretty slow beginning. The reasons for the way the world was the way it was were given but not until late in the story. I found myself having a lot of questions as I tried to figure out what was going on in the story. So much happened in the book that I felt like developing the characters motives and personalities got pushed to the back burner.

I read an eARC and had some issues with the formatting that I hope are ARC issues and not book issues. Capitalization was extremely random with some names never being capitalized and others shifting from lower case to upper case at random. Also sometimes the initial letters of sentences lacked capitalization. I'm eager to see the finished book to see if this was by design or just a product of the eARC.

Fans of fantasy and steampunk will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
"As for what I will look at and will touch, I require no permission. Your body hides as many secrets as your tongue. Secrets I want. And you'll give them up, Grey. By the Designer, you will give them up."
I got this ARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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