Disclaimer: I consider the author a friend; however, I purchased the hardcopy version of this book for full price.
As a reader who loves period dramas where the characters are often committed to the correct manners and more, importantly, the correct clothes, I couldn’t go wrong with a version of England with TWO forms of aristocracy. Even better, the second took the form of a female-driven society of witches.
I adored the world-building that went into this unique steampunk story, where magic and technology clash as a metaphor for societal gender dynamics. This book’s evolution of magic made me interested in so much more than the story I was given, and I’d be thrilled if the author revisited this world in the future.
As for the main events in the book itself, Arabella was a sympathetic character faced with multiple plights due to her unique magical abilities. It doesn’t help that her mother is a narcissistic sociopath or that the men in her family, whom Arabella goes to for safe harbor, don’t really see her as worth more than what her power can bring them either.
Unfortunately, I wanted more from the climax of this book. The trials mentioned on the back cover seemed like they should have been stepping stone toward a more dramatic conclusion, especially in regards to the larger issues at play. Like I said, I’d be happy to see more of this world — especially if it means that I get to see Arabella face off against the bigger picture Sonnier has created.