My review for KBR of Jacqueline Garlick’s Lumiere (Book One, the Illumination Paradox Series) (2013)

NOTE: The Kindle Book Review received a free copy of this book for an independent, fair, and honest review. We are not associated with the author or Amazon.

In this steampunk YA fantasy, Eyelet Emiline Elsworth, the heroine, is the teenaged daughter of a scientist who disappeared after losing his capstone invention, the Great Illuminator, to betrayal and theft. In a dystopian past-future where daylight has vanished and the lower classes are kept hemmed in and separated by rolling poisonous fogs called Vapours, Eyelet must flee persecution and find the Great Illuminator before her father’s enemies find it first.

The grim setting is drawn with a beautiful cinematic skill, with an Oz-like blend of whimsy and horror that would lend itself well to a filmed adaptation. I also appreciated the sharp, funny details, such as the Ladybird, a flying Twitter analogue that can carry tiny tin scrolls stamped with messages of 140 characters or less. Eyelet, who is also the first-person narrator, is strong and skillful, and the narrative is packed full of action. The plot, which never stops moving, turns on a innovative use of radiation, reflecting the early 20th-century fad for the healing use of “rays” of various types.

It is somewhat distracting to have a heroine named Eyelet and a villain, Professor Smrt, whose name lacks all vowels. Nevertheless, younger readers are less likely to notice this than I am, so let it pass. I was also awfully fond of Eyelet’s friend Urlick, even though that was his name, because he was so delightfully twisted as a love interest. The characters generally needed more depth, more complexity of motivation, and the immense spunkiness of Eyelet was grating until it became indispensable to the situation. Again, this will not affect the enjoyment of younger readers, for whom this will be a wonderful ride. I would give it 3.5 stars, if Amazon would permit it.

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