London, 1889: Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin's son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world.
At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire's talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It's not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices...
When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his...if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals....
©2011 Shelley Adina (P)2013 Shelley Adina
Shelley Adina tries to enter into the "strong-willed female in a steampunk Victorian Britain" space...a space occupied by many other writers. Because this is a crowded space, Adina would need to deliver a heck of a story to stand out from the crowd. And she didn't.
The characters and setting are somewhat interesting, and the author managed to hit a believable steampunk atmosphere---and I liked the fact that she did not shy away from the issue of the extreme poverty that existed in Victorian London.
I kept waiting for the story to begin...and I guess it did, but not until the book was 2/3 finished. Clearly, this is intended to be a series, since this book really reads almost like the first couple of chapters of a larger book...mostly setting and set-up and introductions rather than true plot. And once there was a story that seemed to be moving, it wasn't that compelling.
Later books in the series might go better, but I don't feel compelled to find out.
If I were to compare this with the Parasol Protectorate series (as some other reviewers have done), I strongly favor the Parasol Protectorate over this series.
The narrator did a good job with this story.
A delightful story to listen to. The main character was very determined, very likable. The supporting characters were also well developed and became quite alive (except the mother seemed a bit too exaggerated). I'd recommend this, however, my one reservation is, I think that it was deliberately divided into four for sales. Where this book ended seemed more an end of Act I, than a complete end to a novel.If it was done for sales, well, so be it, but a fully fleshed out book costing a bit more would've most likely earned five stars from me.
The author has a delightful imagination and she's created a unique world. But Book One just ended, no resolution, too many issues left hanging. Since Harry Potter's seven books it's become a trend to do this, but in this case, The Lady of Devices would've been best served by being put in one single book. Just my opinon.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the "moppets" and how they were transformed.
All throughout, the author did a fine job "inventing" machines and giving just enough description so they could be imagined.
Her voice is smooth, and so very easy to listen to. The English accent makes the listener absolutely feel as if they are transported to Victorian England. She did a wonderful reading and I've written her name down to find more books.
I really do wish that Audible would combine all of the books in this series into one. It makes the purchasing easier and allows for the story to continue without interruption.
LADY OF DEVICES thoroughly captivated me. There's something truly other-worldly yet so completely natural about this blend of Victorian England (with all its social rules) and Steampunk alternative history. I found myself loathe to put down this book, as the plot twists and turns made it a definite page-turner. I found the plot to make perfect sense as the twists happened (foreshadowed beautifully)...but I never saw them coming. The secondary characters added so much charm and wit to the read, and I loved their contributions. Each one was completely purposeful.
I find myself eager to read the second book in the series and delve back into this wold Shelley Adina has created.
This first book in the series did a splendid job setting up the story world, introducing characters, allowing us to see Claire Trevelyan's personality and character. Claire was not the standard 'YA' heroine (thank you, Ms. Adina!). Claire may be barely out of the schoolroom (age 17), yet she is independent, competent, determined, resourceful, KIND, and more powerful than she realized. I found her to be immensely sympathetic and interesting. While this might technically be labeled a Coming of Age tale, it's by far the BEST one I've ever read. I'm pleased to find I've discovered this series late enough that there are MANY books available in the series...so there's no waiting for me-- they're ripe and ready for picking and savoring.
I can't compliment the narrator/voice actress enough. Fiona Hardingham was well-suited to the task; her dialects (so many!) were extraordinarily good. Whether a Lady, a street urchin, an American 'colonist', male or female, of any and every age, each and every voice was consistent with itself and WOWED me! I'll definitely try other books Ms. Hardingham has narrated. Kudos to both the author and the narrator.
Highly recommended to fans of historical novels (particularly Victorian England) and Steampunk.
The story is set in London and is close enough considering Steam Punk is supposed to be slightly out of our current universe. The representation of the young ladies is OK but a bit hackneyed. It is very much an outsider's view of society girls and a typically idealized view of 'polite' girls.
The story does not go the way that it looks like it will, and it isn't surprising that a bright woman sometimes does stupid things. People are far too simplistically offended, we are occasionally treated to adults taking permanent dislike to children based on a single sentence. A bit too pat.
On the one hand the story is fantastic, as in unbelievable. But on the other it isn't quite supposed to be real Victorian society, so the differences are forgivable.
In the end the story is enjoyable but too short, half a book.
Within a few minutes of the start we hit the first Americanism and they come in every few minutes from then on. "she fit in"? The poor reader must have choked on this. She fits or she fitted. In Victorian England they may have used steam power but they knew their language. England does not have Sidewalks. Nor shingle roofs, even cheap homes had slate or stone roofs. Pocket book? Really> I have never heard that term in English English, but I am not certain. Britain did not grow maize, what Americans call corn. Corn in Britain meant wheat, cornfields were yellow dry grass. Every few minutes another Americanism. There are various "brit fic" communities, or the Little Details community on Livejournal that would be able to provide direction. The Americanisms really spoiled the effect and pushed my assessment to Fan Fic rather than serious and professional writing.
I am at that half a century mark in years. I enjoy audiobooks,cats,rats and most days my family,not necessarily in that order!lol
Claire,she knows what she wants
Her portrayal of the characters was wonderful!
In a Steampunk World a girl born into the 'Bloodline' half of society graduates school w/plans for college.She is to be married off instead.In a span of a few weeks she and her family lose everything and Claire ,though suffering scoundrels and ruffians my just find her destiny.
I REALLY liked this book.The story was interseting,tight,the characters seemed pretty real.The narrator,Fiona Hardingham,did a wonderful job in her portrayal orf all the characters.I can not wait to go on to bk 2!
An English Lady with a mind and will of her own finds herself destitute. Her admirable character and huge heart make this a must listen to novel... I promise you WILL be hooked! Can't wait to see what further adventures lie in store for the Lady of Devices!
I have never felt so strongly about a book/series to make a comment. This is my first and I am an avid Audible reader/listener. Good fun, strong characters along with a vivid storyline make this series a winner! Own the whole series - you can't go wrong.
I bought this during a $4 sale, and I'm happy with my purchase. First, this is a YOUNG ADULT novel (I didn't see this mentioned anywhere except another review). All the same, it's an entertaining 5 hours. The main character wasn't particularly unique (I recently listened to Alexia Tarabotti), but the world was interesting and the characters made even livelier by Hardingham's narration. Her character voices were all very good, and my only complaint is the strange breaks... in the middle... of sentences. I got used to it after a little bit, and before I knew it, the book was finished. I'll probably follow up with the rest of the series if I can likewise find them for $4. They would be good for passing time during long drives with the whole family.
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (teen historical fiction) - This is Book 1 in the Magnificent Devices series. It is probably a great book for teens but, let's face it, I'm not a teen and I bought it by mistake. It's well-written and beautifully performed, but the story is simple and fairly juvenile. It is based somewhere in England in the early days of steam engines. The main character, Claire, is a young lady of fine breeding who graduates from the English equivalent of high school. Then through a series of events, she finds herself on the streets, penniless, and taking care of a bunch of orphan children and surviving in the underworld. The characters are endearing, but the story just never had enough going on to interest my adult brain. The ending of the book is more like the beginning of a new alliance, so you will need to continue the series if you want to come to the conclusion. I'm stopping here.
PERFORMANCE - The narrator is female and has a lovely voice. I enjoyed listening to her read the story.
OVERALL - No sex or cursing and just a tiny bit of violence, so it's fine for teenagers. Just remember the story doesn't stand alone. I'd recommend for girls more than for guys because the main character is female. Adults need to skip this book.
Working towards retirement hopefully. I enjoy sci fi, horror, steampunk and some ya for good luck.
I enjoyed the depth and detail of the world. Sometimes too much information is like stuffing you get bloated. Not here the detail brought it alive for me helped me to imagine the world and setting.
Narrator's always make or break a audio book for me. This narrator just nailed the voices and time period. Well at least how I imagine the period. Her accent and voices for the children are awesome.
A great introduction to a new series. One of the best things I have read in the last 10 years. Well worth a look (or a listen!). The production suits the glorious prose perfectly. Well done to all involved and more more more please!
"Such a fun read and the narrator is outstanding."
The story is really engaging, fun and imaginative. Not formulaic at all and full of surprises.
I could hear Fiona Hardingham reading the phone book - she's fantastic.
Nicely written with an appealing cast of characters
The twins, Maggie and Lizzie - different characters but both appealing in their own way
She's very good with accents so it's easy to distinguish which character she is voicing. Her pronunciation could be better in places (consistently pronouncing the "Bow" of "Bow Bells" as if it were someone bending at the waist instead of being what one would tie using a ribbon, for example) but generally she's very good.
It's certainly made me laugh
It's obviously written by an American - the everyday American terms peppered about the English setting are a bit jarring (sidewalk, instead of pavement, vest instead of waistcoat, always referring to Autumn as "Fall" etc.), although on the whole it's an exciting and engaging story with characters that draw you in to experience the narrated events in their lives.
"Don't judge the book by its cover!"
With its horrible cover and an author whose other work seems to include Amish romantic fiction, I wasn't sure that this was going to be the book for me. Still, I like steampunk and this volume was free so I thought I'd give it a go.
I'm glad I did. This book is absolutely charming and very well written. The steampunk technology (basically, combustion engines have not been made to work) fits in very well with the plot and, barring a lightning gun or two, is more plausible than some and well worked into the plot.
Unlike some other steampunk novels, however, the technology does not crowd out characterisation and I liked the almost Jane Austen subtlety of tone and description of the everyday social conflicts of upper class Victorian society.
If the book has a fault it's that it is clearly the first volume of a series and consequently very little is resolved. I shall definitely be downloading the next volume, however, as the first volume has left me anxious to resume the adventures of Lady Claire and her semi-cilvilised but cute gang of orphans (plus chicken).
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