This is one of the semi-finalists from Fantasy Book Critic and their review can be found HERE .
The plot for this one took a little while to unravel and consequently much of the first half of the book is an introduction to the world, the characters, and setting. Moon Children are thought to be mixed breeds of Meridians and humans. Meridians live in a floating city and are rumored to have sparkling skin and lots of mysterious technology. Moon Children have bright white hair and are shunned from most of society, they are immune to The Rot which has quickly spread throughout the world and no one can explain why. To survive since none of the mainstream society will accept them, they divide themselves into gangs and those without a clan can quickly find themselves in trouble.
Raggy Maggy is a Moon Child and she discovers a dead Meridian at the beginning of the book. On his person, there’s a small clockwork dragon that appears to be intelligent and alive despite the fact it’s made of metal. This is something that’s completely foreign to Maggy and she doesn’t know what to make of it. She tucks it away just as guards find her and her friend too close to a dead Meridian and they give chase. Long story short, they end up in a lot of trouble and are helped out by an unlikely source.
I liked Mags as a character, she’s the classic outcast type and I generally enjoy those POVs. She’s different enough to have her own voice and struggles that are unique to her world. I found myself rooting for her success and invested in her arc. However, I didn’t find myself connecting much with the side characters outside of Ghost. There were a few scenes where I was probably supposed to feel bad about someone’s death but didn’t care all that much. The city of Brightstone can be brutal, and in that way, it did make for tense moments of action where you weren’t sure who would live or die.
I found myself wondering where this was going at 30-50% so it dragged a bit and felt a little loose with the plotting. I was still engaged enough by the characters and world to keep going and not slow down too much.
There were a few real-world idioms that brought me out of the moment, but other than that I enjoyed the prose and writing style. The dialogue flowed and felt natural, never forced or stilted. There was a nice balance between narrative and dialogue that kept scenes flowing quickly.
The world building is really something that got me into this story. I definitely wanted to know how all of this biological clockwork magical stuff worked. Clockwork dragons, clockwork hearts, floating cities etc.
Overall this was a fun engaging read that with a little tightening and polishing could kick this up from good to great. What bothered me may not bother you, and this book has great bones and concepts – if it sounds like you’d enjoy it I encourage you to give it a try.
TLDR: Part Clockwork steampunk, part dystopia, part coming of age, this story has a little something for everyone. A divided society where a race of alien like Meridians live in a floating city overtop the human city of Brightstone. Moon Children, thought to be a mix of both ‘breeds’ live on the outskirts of society trying to survive.
- Plot: 11/15
- Characters: 12.5/15
- World Building: 13/15
- Writing: 12/15
- Pacing: 11/15
- Originality: 12/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 7.5/10
Final Score: 79/100 or 4/5 stars on GR