Vespa loves working with her father, preparing captured magical creatures for display in the museum. But now she must make a good match, ignoring the signs that she’s as Unnatural as anything in the museum – and in terrible danger.
The Church of Science and Technology controls New London after a temporal quirk landed that city in an alternate England generations ago, allowing no magic or witchery within its bounds. The Tinker folk who respect nature and its Elementals endure a hardscrabble existence outside the City Wall, adopting City children born with magical traits and abandoned there, exposed to the Creeping Waste.
Syrus listens to Granny’s stories in the Tinker camp, knows that the City soldiers will soon take more Tinkers to slave in the Refinery which produces the substance which powers the City, senses that Vespa is not like other City folk, knows that the land will rupture and perish when the last Elementals are gone.
The secret society of Architects also knows that the Church cannot keep capturing Elementals /Unnaturals without endangering their world, and they foil the Refiners at every turn. When Syrus gets caught up in their conflict, he rushes to rescue his clan members from the Refinery.
Vespa’s time as Companion to high-born Lucy is filled with dressmaker’s appointments and matchmaker consultations, when her mistress suddenly demands that she use magic to craft a love charm! But lurking secrets in Lord Virulen’s manor house may upset the young ladies’ scheme before it begins.
Does so-ordinary Vespa possess enough untapped magic to help Lucy capture a nobleman’s heart before the Empress discovers their crime? Who is the secretive Architect risking exposure as he shields Syrus from the Refiners’ wrath? Why didn’t Vespa ever suspect that she was a witch in the first place?
Steampunk and fantasy collide in this alternate world created by Tiffany Trent, as the creatures seen as Elementals by the Tinkers and as Unnaturals by the Citizens hold the key to everything.
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.blogspot.com