Thursday, January 7, 2016

Curio by Evangeline Denmark {review}

♦by Evangeline Denmark
♦publisher: Blink
♦release date: January 5th, 2016
♦hardcover, 432 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Curio, book 1
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Grey Haward has always detested the Chemists, the magicians-come-scientists who rule her small western town. But she has always followed the rules, taking the potion the Chemists ration out that helps the town’s people survive. A potion that Grey suspects she—like her grandfather and father—may not actually need.

By working at her grandfather’s repair shop, sorting the small gears and dusting the curio cabinet inside, Grey has tried to stay unnoticed—or as unnoticed as a tall, strong girl can in a town of diminutive, underdeveloped citizens. Then her best friend, Whit, is caught by the Chemists’ enforcers after trying to protect Grey one night, and after seeing the extent of his punishment, suddenly taking risks seems the only decision she can make.

But with the risk comes the reality that the Chemists know her family’s secret, and the Chemists soon decide to use her for their own purposes. Panicked, Grey retreats to the only safe place she knows—her grandfather’s shop. There, however, a larger secret confronts her when her touch unlocks the old curio cabinet in the corner and reveals a world where porcelain and clockwork people are real. There, she could find the key that may save Whit’s life and also end the Chemists’ dark rule forever.

Review:  Curio delivers a healthy dose of steampunk, magic, and mystery, but for me, fell short of being a story that really captured me. 

Curio, the world inside Grey's grandfather' curio cabinet, is beautifully imagined, with visual descriptions that put me in the mind of Dorothy going from colorless Kansas to the vivid brightness of Oz.  Lots of bizarre little details, a mysterious loner soaring around on a flying contraption, a society of porcelain people who feed on water from each other like vampires, the slums full of clockwork rejects who are pushed to fight for their freedom. The setup of the society, however, felt a bit cliche---insert any aristocratic society with the poor and down-trodden on the brink of revolt. 

There are three alternating viewpoints, that of Grey, Blaise, and Whit, two of them in Curio and one back in the human world where people are kept subservient by sinister chemists and their potions.  I think where it went wrong for me was the alternate worlds being a little too disjointed and being left too long in the dark about how they were connected. There are times when alternate view points really lend a lot to a story, but for me, this wasn't one of them. It felt like two stories running side by side, rather than one cohesive story. Again, lots of interesting little details to each world, but it just took a little too long to connect with either and get an idea what the purpose of it all was.  Grey, herself, discovers she is part of an ancient race of "Defenders",  but we're left wondering how that is even significant for far into the story. 

The creativity is good and the descriptions are lovely, but just a little excessive at times. If you can push through the slow-moving plot, Curio is an intriguing world to discover. 

Find Evangeline Denmark online: Website  •  Twitter  •  Instagram

Purchase Curio: Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon


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