Rescued by a secretive benefactor, Meg is no longer a young lady of good society in Victorian England, but a orphaned housemaid in a mansion that time forgot. When intricate devices point to clues regarding her parents' deaths, the sixteen-year-old knows she must follow them, despite the danger to herself, her reputation, and her heart.
Meg wonders why every detail here must stay as it was, why the Baron took her in, why the staff knows "he's always watching" when no one sees him. She mourns for her learned parents, killed in the fire which consumed their clock shop and her future six months ago. If only her grandfather were still alive...
When she asks the Baron's young coachman to repair the clock-locket which alone survived the fire, it turns out to be a clockwork key. Meg recognizes its design in the parlor fireplace and unlocks secrets about the Baron (and her grandfather) that send her rushing to Will for help. Visiting a graveyard, unlocking more secrets, befriending a young widow - the pair uncovers a far-reaching organization of inventors, a sinister plot, and a terrifying problem.
The unseen Baron fires them both for "unbecoming behavior" and Meg knows that he's discovered her visit into his workroom. With widowed Mrs. Pricket, they flee London, trying to reach the nearest amusementist (as Lucinda Pricket calls these inventors in the Secret Order) and safety. Although the inventor is long gone, his larger-than-life clockwork-powered amusement remains, and they must reanimate it to find more clues. For if they cannot stop the Baron, then he will kill them as surely as he killed Meg's parents and Lucinda's husband and others of the Secret Order.
Can they outrun the man who wants to control time?
Can they survive the perils of the gigantic clockwork amusements?
Can Meg and Will ignore their attraction to one another?
An entire secret organization dedicated to inventing the most elaborate toys on earth, a murderer bent on snuffing out all competitors, a chance for love outside Victorian society's cast-iron rules - all in the first book of The Secret Order series.
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA – blogging young adult books beyond the bestsellers at http://BooksYALove.com