Hannah is a young girl working hard to provide for her family who is in desperate need of money and provision. When a rich woman named Madame Pomeroy hires Hannah, she thinks her and her family's problems might just be solved. Will they?
Giuseppe is a young boy who lives in an orphanage under the wicked Stephano. He plays the fiddle in the streets to make money to give to Stephano. But when he finds a beautiful green violin, he believes his life could be permanently altered...that he could someday go home to Italy again. Can he?
Frederick doesn't want to be reminded of the orphanage he was once a part of - or that he doesn't know where his family is. He works as a clockmaker for Master Branch, and is currently pulling together an automaton he believes can make him rich and solve all his problems. Will it?
As these three young peoples' lives are pulled together, this story unfolds in a way that Hannah, Giuseppe, and Frederick would have never imagined.
I was quite intrigued by this book, more than I was expecting when I bought it. While it isn't a favorite, I will definitely read it again. Hannah, Frederick, and Giuseppe were great leading roles, and the side characters helped move the story along very smoothly. They needed to be there. I can't imagine the story without a single one of them - and that's why I can't pick a favorite. The three leads were amazing, each in his/her own way. And Alice, Mister Branch, Miss Wool, and the Magnus head were phenomenal. If I had to pick between them all, I would only be able to get down to two - Frederick and the Magnus head. But even they are so tied with the rest...
One word I'd use to sum up this book would be precious. It is a precious story, full of love, hope, friendship, and the gifts of a few young people put into action to better the lives of those around them. My favorite aspect of the story is how perfectly it all falls together, the way the characters meet each other and interact.
The writing in this story is really well done. It is just purely solid. No fluff, in the best possible way. There's really no way to describe it - you'll just have to read the story. It's definitely a one-of-a-kind novel. It could be categorized as steampunk - or fantasy - or even sci-fi - and yet it can also be categorized as a good old fashioned, adventurous fiction novel.
Do I have anything bad to say about this book? Well, not necessarily bad, if you will, just some cautions. There is a seance toward the beginning of the book, and while it moves the story along really well, it isn't developed any further (the woman performing the seance is said to be able to speak with spirits). The book takes a turn for the creepy about half-way through, but that lasts for no more than 50 pages. And the last thought I have is that about half-way through, the really important things stopped happening. I mean, every event, word, and scene in this book is important, but it wasn't as adventurous as the first or second half. So if you start getting bored - DON'T put the book down. You'll be so so so so happy you read it when it's over. (I wasn't exactly bored with these few scenes, though, in case you're wondering...it's really hard to explain.)
This book is recommended to ages 12 and up (if you get scared really easily, don't read it at night because of the bits and pieces of creepy; otherwise, you're fine). And while I think young readers will love this book, I believe adult readers will find it fascinating as well. It's a solid piece of fiction and I can't wait to read more of Matthew J. Kirby's books!
P.S. The Cover of this book is just as intriguing as the story, because its complexity matches the story within. And the layout...well, it was so clean and easy to understand and read. And I just LOVED that it had chapter names, and that the names actually caught my attention. :)