I wasn't expecting to like this book. Indeed, my expectations were pretty much in the basement, as much of the Young Adult fiction I've dabbled in recently has ranged from mediocre to abysmal. And Victorian steampunk YA? With a handy love triangle outlined in the liner notes? Blargh.
And then, and then, and then...I found myself enjoying the book. The romance elements were there, but never the most important part of the book - the female character seemed to regard staying alive and saving her brother to be more important than falling desperately in love! Remarkable! (Although the brother does conform nicely to that image of the Victorian wastrel I've run into in at least a couple of books so far.)
Tessa Gray comes to England to meet her brother, only to be kidnapped, forced into discovering her supernatural power, escaping, being saved, and learning to negotiate a new world as a being she never knew could even exist.
Maybe it's just that the book pleasantly reminded me of the Victorian Buffy game we've been playing, on and off, for the last year or so. My husband did a ton of research for that, and this book had much of the same flavour.
Maybe it's that, although there are ass-kicking women around in the book (and I do love kick-ass female characters), this time, the main female character had a non-combat related superpower. It required more thought, and sneakiness.
Maybe it's that the characters were interesting, and consistent. And had reasons for doing what they were doing. (Libba Bray, you could learn from this.) The main character might have started out sheltered, but after she had had a painful exposure to the world-as-it-is in this book, she never, several chapters later, seemed to have entirely forgotten everything that happened to her.
Okay, that last is really praising-the-bare-minimum, but given that so many books do have characters that seem to suffer from isolated amnesia rendering them incapable of remembering important experiences they will recover mere pages later, it seems to bear mentioning.
So yes, it's a paranormal Young Adult semi-romance. But it's a good one, at least. It's the first book by this author I've read. And I enjoyed it. I feel like I shouldn't admit that. But here I am, doing it anyway.
Note - this is not great literature. Not even close. But for a light, fluffy read, this is the sort of thing I actually enjoy.