by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears. (description from Amazon.com)
I have mixed feelings about this book and I'm not sure exactly how to describe how I felt upon finishing it. There were things I really loved, but somehow I still found this book to be lacking...something. I am somewhat frustrated because I can't seem to identify exactly what it seems to need! Grr...
I liked the steampunk aspects of this book. There were some cool inventions and I especially liked the description of the unique doors that guarded Mr. Beasley's fantastic library. The horseless carriages were cool, too.
I liked that this book delved into the realm of the fantastic. People with wings, half-goblins, and other strange mutations. It was an interesting exploration of what it meant to be "human." But... a lot of this aspect of the book wasn't even really address until the last third of the book and it's really left not fully explained to fulfill the need for a sequel.
Lena was an interesting character, but she wasn't great. I was actually more interested in Mr. Beasley, the well intentioned and handsome young librarian Jimson Quiggley, and even the beastly marshal that ends up trying to hunt everyone down. While I was fairly solidly invested in the world of the book, I did not find myself that much behind the main character. :/
Were it not for the action sequence at the end and the idea that the Scree will be more fully explored in the next book, I would find this one almost forgettable. It was by no means awful, but I wanted SO much more.
Full disclosure: Borrowed through interlibrary loan