Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Book Review of Curio by Evangeline Denmark

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 Grey Haward has always detested the Chemists, the magicians-come-scientists who rule her small western town. But she has always followed the rules, taking the potion the Chemists ration out that helps the town’s people survive. A potion that Grey suspects she—like her grandfather and father—may not actually need.
By working at her grandfather’s repair shop, sorting the small gears and dusting the curio cabinet inside, Grey has tried to stay unnoticed—or as unnoticed as a tall, strong girl can in a town of diminutive, underdeveloped citizens. Then her best friend, Whit, is caught by the Chemists’ enforcers after trying to protect Grey one night, and after seeing the extent of his punishment, suddenly taking risks seems the only decision she can make.
But with the risk comes the reality that the Chemists know her family’s secret, and the Chemists soon decide to use her for their own purposes. Panicked, Grey retreats to the only safe place she knows—her grandfather’s shop. There, however, a larger secret confronts her when her touch unlocks the old curio cabinet in the corner and reveals a world where porcelain and clockwork people are real. There, she could find the key that may save Whit’s life and also end the Chemists’ dark rule forever.

Series: Curio (Book 1)
Genre: YA Steampunk
Publisher: Blink (January 5, 2016)
Page Count: 432 pages

I discovered this book at Realm Makers 2015. I was browsing through the book shop when I saw a little poster for the book. I looked around for a copy, but none were around. I read small cards displaying the back cover copy and gasped at the notion of a Christian steampunk novel. I'd been dreaming of such a book for years and now and, seeing as I'm writing one myself, I was pleased to know someone had broken the barriers for that genre. The book didn't release until January 5th, but I was fortunate enough to get on the launch team to get an advance reader copy. Thanks so much, Evangeline!

The Plot: The plot is very compelling. Escaping from a world of porcelain and clockwork people while also dealing with oppressive alchemist, plus a rebellion in the world of Curio against a human-obsessed ruler. How cool is that?

The Characters: The characters were all very dimensional and realistic. I could picture each of them perfectly. Grey was a great protagonist. She's brave, feminine, and clever. Whit is guilt-driven, but kind and compassionate. Blaise is troubled and I love his mad inventor personality. His description with the copper woven in his hair along with steam-powered wings is just awesome.

The bad guys were definitely motivated and creepy as all get out. Adante with his telepathy and green glow and monocle was the pinnacle of cynical. Though I must say Lord Benedict Blue Boy topped him. His obsession with beauty and blue and vampyric nature was downright scary. Both were great villains. Very memorable.

There are many side characters including Marina, Nettie, Haimon, Granddad, Seree, and Callis. All of them were well thought out and stood out.

The Setting: The setting was just wow. Grey's home was very interesting with the potion dependence and the deputies lurking about in this steampunk version of the Old West. The laws there are so bloody strict! Though I really like how the laws against any sort of sensual contact effect the characters in some interesting ways. 

Curios was so awesome. The residents are either made of porcelain or clockwork parts and they run by steam. Their cultures is centered around being beautiful, which often excludes others. The world doesn't have food, but it has enchanted paintings where food can be taken out of. They don't have doctors they have glueman. They don't have dinner, they have evening sips. It's sooooo fascinating!
The Writing: The writing is pretty good. The description and plot flowed well. The ending felt a bit rushed as if the author was made to speed it up. I felt like more time could have been taken there. I hope there's a sequel, because much room is left for more. The dialogue was good except for the beginning some contrived dialogue was unskillfully used to introduce some ideas. That worried me for a while, but that stops not far in. The only consistent error that was a bit irritating was the action and reaction errors. Characters reacted to things before they happened.

Epic Things: Epicness overload here. There's just so much. XD This book has all of the things I like. The Defender concept is really cool by gathering stone-like strength. Chemia magic is just so neat and creepy. I also like that coywolves were mentioned. Most people I've met don't know they exist. The steampunk mechanisms are just too cool. Just about everything in this book is epic.

The Theme: Our culture today is obsessed with being young and beautiful. Just visit Walmart and look at the magazines: weight loss tips, ways to look younger and more sexy and so you can fit into a highly-revealing bikini. The people of Curio are equally as focused on always looking beautiful. They wear revealing clothing and getting hurt in any kind of way to mar their appearance is very frowned upon. In their obsession, they react people who are damaged and who are made half tock even if it's to save their lives.

Beauty doesn't always mean perfection and outward appearance. Beauty is found in how we treat others.

Content Cautions: This book is pretty clean. The only thing remotely close to a swear is a character said "
damnation" in a swear-like way and oaths and swears are mentioned but not uttered. Characters are wounded in various ways such as a dislocated shoulder or being whipped. The most gruesome thing is that one character has her hand ripped off. Blueboy's advances towards Grey could be taken as sexual but seeing as he's a mechanical lifeform, nothing could actually happen.

Conclusion: I really enjoyed this book. If the ending wasn't a little iffy, I'd have given it five stars. I'm giving it a 4.5! This is a great book. ^ ^

About the Author:
Evangeline Denmark cannot sing. This tragic discovery led to bouts of angst-ridden poetry writing in her teens, an ill-advised relationship with Edward Fairfax Rochester, and the compulsive creation of her own fictional worlds.
Having found her true voice, Evangeline writes fiction with hints of whimsy, glimmers of fantasy, and strokes of the supernatural. Her debut novel, Curio, sets coming-of-age and first love against a backdrop of steam-propelled greed and societal repression. For a peek into the origins of the Curio world check out the prequel novella, Mark of Blood and Alchemy.
Evangeline lives in Colorado with her husband, an engineer with a sense of humor and an artistic streak, two ravenous sons who steal her laptop and demand dinner, a cat, two turtles, and a cattle dog who runs the house.

Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and her website!

If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)

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