*Book source ~ A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Twelve-year-old Wendy Magdalena Braca’s life after her father dies isn’t the greatest, but it takes a turn for the worse after her mother is murdered, she’s convicted of the crime and sent to Greenleaf Asylum for Troubled Girls. Stuck there for years, she keeps her head down and just tries to survive. Until that horrible day she couldn’t take it anymore and her magic manifests in self-defense. Eventually she is rescued by an assassin’s guild and they teach her all about a world she knew nothing about. A world where there are humans (Cæcus), magic users (Validus) and Half-Breeds. She embraces the life and vows to find the person who murdered her mother. But first, she needs to learn everything about this strange new world and her magic which is the rarest of all. She’s the Curse Breaker.
This YA steampunk isn’t just steampunky. It’s got a heaping helping of sci-fi, suspense and fantasy with a pinch of horror tossed in. In Wendy’s world there are 522 Realms and people travel from Realm to Realm via gates. Nuclear powered, the gates are a technology that can fold space allowing jump-trams to transport people and things from one place to another, making travel and colonization of close and far distant planets a commonplace occurrence. The magic is a fascinating addition and how it works is slightly different than what I’ve read before which makes it new and fresh. The story is told from Wendy’s POV, so there’s no getting in the heads of the other characters, but they are fully-fleshed, so that’s not a problem. The world is described in wonderfully rich detail. Thankfully, the things Wendy suffers in the Asylum are left mostly to the imagination, but it’s not hard to guess what she’s been through. *shudders* The story covers nearly a decade, so there’s plenty of background info, but there is also a little bit of info dumping. Not too bad though. However, there are times that Wendy pisses me off and those are the times she goes out drinking. Come on! She’s a rare commodity and she’s going to dull her senses like that? Make herself vulnerable to an attack? I just wanted to slap her. Anyway, the ending leaves the door wide open for the next installment. I’m looking forward to seeing what Wendy does next.