Recommended for ages 13+
Eleanor lost her mother when she was a child, and has been living under her evil stepmother’s thumb ever since. She’s a stranger to her beloved father; indeed, to everyone she once knew – her stepmother has managed to bewitch her so that no one will recognize her. Living as a servant in her own home and forced to wear a stranger’s face in public, Ellie is in for a bleak future until her childhood best friend, Ben Grimm, sees through the spell and recognizes her. Together, guided by a mysterious benefactor, Ellie may have a chance to regaining her life after all.
Heavily influenced by Cinderella, this steampunk fairy tale is great YA reading for girls who like a little steam power in their romance. Ellie isn’t a simpering, fainting Victorian heroine; she’s a smart, determined young woman who is darned angry about the way her life has gone, and she’s going to fight to get it all back. The evil stepmother is truly an awful human being – you’ll be waiting the entire book for a giant anvil to fall out of the sky and bean her, I promise you – and Ben, as the long-lost childhood friend, has his own subplot about his personal quest for independence that will put you firmly in his corner.
Great characters, steam and brass, and a familiar fairy tale feel to comfort you on days when you just want to be a kid again. A Curse of Ash & Iron is the book for your burgeoning steampunk collection. If your readers aren’t quite ready for Gail Carriger’s Finishing School assassins, they’ll love Ellie and her friends. Historical notes at the novel’s end will appeal to history buffs!
Author Christine Norris offers printable goodies on her website, along with some extra content geared toward librarians. Give her some love, she’s one of our tribe!