The Incredible Charlotte Sycamore by Kate Maddision

incrediblecharlotte_katemaddisonThe sixteen-year-old daughter of Queen Victoria’s surgeon should be a mild-mannered and polite. That is what everyone in Her Majesty court’s thinks. Even so, Charlotte Sycamore has a price on her head and labeled the Robin Hood Surgeon for stealing medicine for the poor. One day, she is bitten by rabid dogs but not just any type of dogs. Mechanical dogs. Then starts the race against time to find a cure for this disease and the master of the dogs.

The Incredible Charlotte Sycamore is classified as an alternative history and steampunk story. It was this fact that instantly drew me to the story. There is a love story, which I think was not very well combined with the main conflict. The love story does take away some of the excitement presented in the book. One good thing is it does contain a very strong female main character, who goes beyond the norms of a “Victorian heroine”. This fact adds a lot to the story. Most of the story seems to have the theme of Charlotte trying to decide what she should do with her life. It is a choose between following her heart or conforming to the court. In her heart, she wants to be wild and free but the court expects her to marry who they choose and lead a quiet life. There are moments where Charlottes makes decisions that do not lead to great results and she learns from them.

To give this book a score, it would be 8/10. There could have been some changes that could have positively added to the story’s plot but overall it is still a very good read. I would recommend it to those trying to find a good steampunk novel.

– Sarah J.,

Series Review: The Infernal Devices, by Cassandra Clare

infernal_devicesThe Infernal Devices is a series written by the well known and loved author Cassandra Clare. A sister to The Mortal Instruments series, The Infernal Devices captures the lives of the ancestors of the characters we know and love.

This series is about a young woman named Tessa Gray, a New Yorker who moved to England to meet her brother. Tessa is on a mission to find her true identity, and find the truth about the life she lived before coming to England. Tessa also falls into a love triangle in which she must choose between the overconfident yet charming Will Herondale, or the sweet and caring Jem Carstairs.

The reader takes an adventure through Tessa’s Victorian England and falls in love with each and every one of the characters. Through clockwork angels and partying with demons, the books contain adventures in every chapter. Not to mention that we get to see what the well known Magnus Bane (from The Mortal Instruments) was like when he was still hanging with the Lightwoods before Alec and Isabelle.

Overall, I would definitely say this is my favorite book series I have ever read, and Cassandra Clare never fails to please her fans with her spectacular writing.

-Sara S., 10th grade

Book Review: Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carriger

etiquette_espionage_coverSophronia Angelina Temminnick does not act at all like a lady should. While her other sisters were acting grown up when they had company, Sophronia climbs into a dumb waiter to eavesdrop on her mother’s conversation. When she falls out and rips her skirt, she wreaks havoc on all occupants of the room. Immediately after this unfortunate event, her mother decides that it is time for Sophronia to go to finishing school and be presentable at her sister’s coming-out ball. This is not exactly Sophronia’s first choice… but she goes along with it.

When she gets into the carriage with Mademoiselle Geraldine, the headmistress of Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, she learns this woman is not who she says she is. In fact, she is actually only a member of the finishing school herself, sent to get the three children currently in the carriage. And also to retrieve a mysterious prototype, which happened to be the cause of a flywaymen attack.

After safely reaching the roaming blimp, which served as the school, Sophronia and the other students are escorted to a platform hanging under the school by a handsome werewolf. That is not the only non-human inhabitant of the school: one of the teachers is a vampire.

Once on the school premises, she gains a better understanding of the school’s purpose, which is apparently not as innocent as it appears. That purpose is not only to teach young ladies proper etiquette, but also to secretly instruct them on the subject of espionage…

If you like mystery and spies, you will enjoy Gail Carriger’s book. I would rate it a 9.5 out of 10, because it was such a captivating novel. I can’t wait until its sequel, Curtsies and Conspiracies, comes out on November 5th.

-Leila S., 8th gade

Book Review: Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld

leviathan_coverThis book review is part of series of reviews written by students at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School for their 7th grade English classes.

I wasn’t alive during World War One but Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan (the first book in his trilogy) made me feel as if I was. Titled after the British whale airships, most of the story takes place on one of these Leviathans. The novel was fast paced and action packed, so it seemed like I was living each moment along with the characters. Scott Westerfeld is clearly an expert at building suspense, as seen in the first three pages of the book: “The war was coming after all. Everyone said so” (3). As I read on, I felt like a part of the story when an Austrian-Hungarian prince named Alek fled from his home. He fled from all his riches and tutors because the Germans killed his parents to start war. “Maybe this was how you stayed sane in wartime: a handful of noble deeds amid the chaos” (360). Alek was accompanied by Count Volger, his fencing tutor, Otto Klop, the engineer and a few other servants. Together they formed a devoted group as they tried to flee to Switzerland. About the same time in England, a brave girl named Deryn tries to join the Air Force posing as a boy. Deryn always wanted to be in the Air Force because her dad took her flying in hot air balloons. Deryn refers to the air forces ships as “beasties” because of the living creature mixed in with the air ship. Deryn doesn’t like guys too much because she thinks they are total unaware of what is going on around them, “Most man’s awareness doesn’t extend past their dinner plates” (279).

Having these two main characters made the book interesting to read because of the different perspectives that it was written in. Since the two characters were different genders, the war could be understood from two points of view. This also makes it appeal to a wider audience of both girls and boys. Further, the two perspectives were not just different but they were actually in opposition due to their countries fighting against each other in the war. Ironically, the two separate story lines merge into one by the end of the novel as the two characters find each other. Throughout the story, Scott Westerfeld taught a valuable lesson of humanity in the way these characters came together and helped each other rather than fight one another. These lessons hit home with a reader because they cause faith in humankind to be restored even despite a violent war.

Scott Westerfeld’s writing is amazing at catching readers attention and keeping them interested because he keeps switching perspectives between Alek and Deryn and keeps you wondering how or when they will meet up. Scott Westerfeld is a very established author, having written 18 different books. His writing style is educational, in the sense that he included historical accuracy in his description of scenes. I think this is a very good book and I would recommend it to all young readers who have an interest in war history novels.

-Dylan C., 7th grade