New York, 1882. A dark, forbidding city, and no place for a girl with unexplainable powers.
Sixteen-year-old Avery Kohl pines for the life she had before her mother was taken. She fears the mysterious men in crow masks who locked her mother in the Tombs asylum for being able to see what others couldn’t. Avery denies the signs in herself, focusing instead on her shifts at the ironworks factory and keeping her inventor father out of trouble. Other than secondhand tales of adventure from her best friend, Khan, an ex-slave, and caring for her falcon, Seraphine, Avery spends her days struggling to survive.
Like her mother’s, Avery’s powers refuse to be contained. When she causes a bizarre explosion at the factory, she has no choice but to run from her lies, straight into the darkest corners of the city. Avery must embrace her abilities and learn to wield their power—or join her mother in the cavernous horrors of the Tombs. And the Tombs has secrets of its own: strange experiments are being performed on “patients”…and no one knows why.
**** Huge thank you to HarperTeen for approving me for this eARC in exchange for an honest review! ****
I have to say I’m a little confused about my feelings for this book, because it started out excellent and then for some reason dragged at the end and the story got really jumbled up. I think it had a lot of potential but that ending just made everything fall really flat for me.
(I’m going to do this review a bit differently, I recently ran a poll on my Twitter asking if you guys prefer my normal method of reviewing or if you’d like a list. It was close but the list style ended up winning so I want to give it a try! Please, please let me know what you think and if you’d like more reviews in this style!)
What I Liked:
- Avery Kohl, our main character, is a fantastic protagonist. She’s very loyal, kind, and doesn’t like to stick to the 1880’s views on women and race. Avery is a welder and honestly it’s pretty badass because the work is hard, she’s looked down on for being female and in this position but toughs it out, and she does it all to help provide for herself and her father. She also watches over the other boys in her crew and is very protective of them, it’s adorable!
- The setting of this book is extremely unique as it’s set during the Second Industrial Revolution in 1880’s New York. I don’t know about you guys but that’s not exactly a setting I see very often especially in YA! From what little I know about this time period I still thought Schaumberg did an excellent job with this setting.
- I also really enjoyed the paranormal/psychic bits of the story, the powers that Avery has are interesting and some other characters possessed powers as well. However, I felt like the powers could have been explored a lot more and it would have made things a lot more interesting.
- The side characters were really great and had their own unique personalities, sometimes they just don’t get enough development but these characters had it! There were a few characters that really endeared themselves to me.
- Avery also has a pet falcon named Seraphine, it’s awesome.
- The pacing at the beginning of the book is very fast and I was pulled in right from the start, the story was intriguing and I wanted to know what was going on with Avery’s powers!
- There is some romance present in this book and I love that it didn’t take over the plot. I did like the love interests overall as well and could easily see why Avery liked them both. It was nice that no one ever had a big spat over who was going to end up with who though.
- Diversity! We have African-American characters, Romany characters, and an Italian character. Of course there were others as well and I liked that we were shown what a “melting pot” New York City is.
- I also really liked that the racism shown towards characters is challenged especially considering the time period the book is set in. Avery and her father both actively disregard the public’s views of other races and are close friends with different people of color.
- The cover is gorgeous!
What I Didn’t Like:
- Half way through the story the pacing slows down significantly and really starts to drag. I ended up skimming a bit right at the ending because I just wanted it to be over.
- The overall plot made sense from the start but as with the pacing, it just got really messy and confusing towards the end. I can’t even really tell you what the heck was happening by the end! The beginning was strong but the end not so much.
- The main antagonist was incredibly cheesy, we are talking classic mustache twirling villain. I had a hard time taking him seriously at all let alone as a threat. And his “grand scheme” was laughably terrible.
- There’s a love triangle and while I liked both love interests, what was the point? Especially the second love interest! He came out of nowhere I felt like!
- As I already kind of mentioned, I wish everyone’s “powers” were explained and explored a lot more. For such an important part of the story I felt it was barely present.
Normally I’d say if the “liked” bits outweigh the “not liked” bits then I enjoyed the book but here it’s just not the case. I enjoyed myself at the beginning of the book but by the end I was so bored and confused that I just can’t give this book a better rating. It was too much of a mess by the end.