In this alternate history, the British still rule the American colonies in 1888. Verity Newton is trying to make her way as a governess for an upper-class family. She befriends several rebels who hope to overthrow the magic-wielding British with steam-powered machines. Soon Verity is using her position to gather valuable information for the rebels. I love a good alternate history, and I thought Rebel Mechanics, with its great characters and interesting premise, was a lot of fun. The mixture of magic, steampunk machinery, and the New York Gilded Age is quite appealing to me. Shanna Swendson's tale would appeal to readers who enjoy Gail Carriger's Etiquette and Espionage.
Julia and her bother, Dack, are part of Spira City's underground. Working for a group of spies and thieves, Julia finds herself spying in a grand house full of mystery. Her interest in the house's activities are piqued when a witch and her young son enter the household. Julia Vanishes has such a rich setting. I love that Spira City is split into many different sections and it's easy to tell the rich areas from poor ones based on their names. There are many religions in this book as well as folklore, witches, and magic, all with great details. For instance, witches only do magic when they write things down. Catherine Egan has truly created a magical world and I loved every minute. (It was also a great audiobook!)
In Erin Beaty's debut, Sage Fowler botches her interview with the matchmaker (not a huge surprise since she has no interest in getting married). Now Sage is the matchmaker's apprentice, serving as her spy to help determine the personalities and compatibility of her potential clients. Her spy duties get much more dangerous once their military escort realizes they are accompanying these ladies into an uprising. I thought this book was a little slow. I had a hard time fully investing, but one thing that did make The Traitor's Kiss fun is that we had two main characters who were spying on each other.
Nova is an Anarchist, a member of the villain group that was overthrown by the Renegades a decade ago. Nova wants to see their downfall. Adrian is a Renegade who has been experimenting with his powers and moonlighting as a vigilante. When Nova infiltrates the Renegades as a spy, these two characters start working together. Renegades felt like a little bit of X-Men, a little bit of This Savage Song, a little bit of The Orphan Queen. It has a lot of aspects you've read before. Still, it's so fun. I love all the powers that Marissa Meyer came up with. So many of them are incredibly creative. I do think that this book is a little long. I wasn't invested in the story right away, and it took a while for me to get the hang of the world. But once I was in, I was all in.
Annis Whitworth just lost her father and all of her money. Society says she must become a governess to earn her way, but she is certain there is another possibility. Annis is also convinced that her father's death was no random occurrence, and she will do what she must to find out the truth. Murder, Magic, and What We Wore was pure fun. Set in an alternate early 19th-century England, this book has as much to do with fashion as it does spy work. Annis is a great character with so much spunk, and I loved the magical elements--sewing glamours is such an interesting magical power. Kelly Jones has written a book that will bring a smile to your face. It really was so fun. Review copy from NetGalley.
Rebel Mechanics, The Traitor's Kiss, and Renegades reviewed by JoLee.
Julia Vanishes and Murder, Magic, and What We Wore reviewed by Paige.