Let’s start with the title: I would love to find out the author’s original title for this work, but what is was published under makes no sense and smacks of interference on the part of a publisher’s marketing department (though the cover is absolutely gorgeous).
Which is a shame, because this novel was a delight to read. As a fan of alternate history and the upstairs/downstairs relationships in stories such as Downton Abbey, this book was immediately on my must-read list from the moment I heard about it. It gets bonus points for being a UTOPIAN look at the future, when so much fiction (and so much of the real world) is rather dreary these days.
So much hope and adventure and love is packed into these pages that it was a joy to read. Unfortunately, I was a bit let down by the ending. The opportunity to truly change things was handed to the characters on a plate, but the resolution they find only maintains the status quo. In a story with queer and intersex characters, and the makings of a potential poly relationship, all treated with respect and delight, it would have been nice to see that utopian aspect taken even further. This is a YA novel, where such things as the status quo can, and should, be smashed.
Perhaps a sequel set in the future where the characters truly turn this fantasy British Empire on its head? Even with my disappointment in this book’s ending, the author’s fantastic narrative style means such a book would also immediately go on my must-read list.