YA / YA for Adult / Steampunk / Historical / Fantasy
I gave this book 4 out of 5 Stars
Publisher's Blurb: Lucretia's life as an astronomer is quickly turned on its head by her eldest brother when he is commanded by the king to build the grandest telescope in the land. Her nights spent on rooftops gazing at the stars are replaced by adventure as the family move to be nearer the king. In a race to build the Forty-foot telescope on time, misfortunes take their toll. The lady astronomer finds court life to be more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Can she find the strength inside to overcome the obstacles threatening her destiny?Only the stars will tell.
The Lady Astronomer is a unique and clever story full of gadgetry and adventure -- and for readers who might think it's complete fiction, the story is loosely based on some real people and historical events. Along with the historical references, within the pages of the story there are elements of fantasy (sentient animals), fairy tales (cameo by the Seven Dwarfs), steampunk (clockwork castle, automatons, and so much more), humor, adventure, danger, intrigue, and even a hint of romance. There's something for everyone and not too much of any one thing.
In main character Lucretia, Author Katy O'Dowd gives readers a delightful and role-model-worthy female character who is scientifically minded, capable, and completely comfortable in her own skin -- pockmarks, style, eye-piece and all. The story is packed with quirky characters, who are brilliantly brought to life with traits which make them all memorable -- even when their names are not. The king and his court are wonderfully descriptive and provide both humor and horror in the story.
The writing was quite engaging, and O'Dowd uses some terrific figurative language to enhance the scenes; one of my favorites (aside from the semi-colon) is: "The wind played with her like a bullying child; taunting and pushing and pulling." The vocabulary used is absolutely delightful and fun (mollycoddled! tetchy! cheeky!) and the dialogue clever and appropriate so that readers hear the Brit-speak. I did find several typos as well as some grammar and punctuation issues; however, I read an ARC (2012 date), so I am hopeful that there will be (has been?) another sweep of editing to fix those issues. The plot moves forward in a linear fashion, with just a few confusing gaps and situations that may push the limits of suspending disbelief.
The conclusion ties up neatly and is most satisfying in where it leaves the characters. Readers will enjoy the "Notes from the Author" included at the end of the story, where among other tidbits, they'll find that in The Lady Astronomer, Lucretia, her brother, and the King are all based on real people, and the seemingly ridiculous forty-foot telescope truly existed.
The book is rightfully aimed at young adult audiences given the level of vocabulary (did I mention it is FABULOUS), violence (mild, but present), references to breasts, and some swearing (endearing, but do we really want little ones echoing "arse" or "G** damn him to hell?" I don't think so.)
Thank you to the author for providing me and eBook in exchange for my honest review -- the only kind I give.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katy is an arts and entertainment journalist and has worked for Time Out, Associated Newspapers and Comic Relief and her articles have appeared in The Times (London), Metro (London) and many other arts and entertainment publications, paper and online.
Alongside writing with her Dad under the pen-name Derry O’Dowd, whose first book The Scarlet Ribbon was chosen to launch the History Press Ireland’s fiction line, she writes under her own name. Katy reviews for the Historical Novels Review and the British Fantasy Society.