Book reviews

Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

Book Format: Paperback29939780

Buy from: Amazon

Borrow from: UK Libraries

Summary: Some secrets change the world in a heartbeat. . . .

Lily’s life is in mortal peril. Her father is missing and now silver-eyed men stalk her through the shadows. What could they want from her?

With her friends—Robert, the clockmaker’s son, and Malkin, her mechanical fox—Lily is plunged into a murky and menacing world. Too soon Lily realizes that those she holds dear may be the very ones to break her heart. . . .

Murder, mayhem and mystery meet in this gripping Victorian adventure (taken from Goodreads).

Review: I found out about Cogheart when buying comics at a local bookstore. It was on display at the till, and a member of staff recommended it to me when they saw me looking at the cover. When recommending it, their enthusiasm came through and I could see that their sales pitch was completely genuine, so I decided to check it out.

The one thing that struck me with this book was the world. I loved the alternative steampunk-esque setting in Victorian times. Automata litter the world, looking like humans or animals, they serve humans whilst the sky is full of dirigibles. I found the way that Bunzi describes his world brought it to life, and I had no trouble visualising his characters and fictional landscape.

I also thought the characters were realistic. Robert and Lily were well-thought out and their interactions with the world were tangible. I liked how events within the book impacted the characters, affecting their decisions and motives afterward. In so many books I have read, bad things happen and characters, whilst sad during the event, forget about it a second later so this was a refreshing surprise.

I also liked Rosie and some of Lily’s mechanical friends, including Malkin. However, although we did have some good female characters, I did feel like there were parts of the novel where women weren’t well represented at all. At the beginning of the book, Lily criticises and judges the other girls at her school for simply being a victim of their own upbringing. That left a bad taste in my month. Whilst this may have worked if done differently, the way it was worded presented Lily as better than other girls as she had resisted conforming to society.

I felt the plot was very predictable as I managed to predict the majority of the plot before finishing the first third of the book. It was very straight-forward and the foreboding was too prevalent throughout. I would have liked a few twists and turns throughout the story, instead of being given a story that I could see straight through. However, considering this is a children’s book, the plot may been more suited for children than an adult. I would be interested to see if a child could predict the plot as easily as I could.

The story is shown through the perspective of three characters; Lily, Robert and Malkin. Although I enjoyed their unique voices, I thought the POV was sometimes unequal in its representation as some characters were given a better story arc than others. During the ending arc, Lily and Malkin have little influence over any decisions. Robert is the character given all the important moments and, whilst good for his own character development, I felt the other characters were left behind. I would have prefered if the characters could have worked together in the final conflict instead of one character getting all the attention.

TLDR: I think this is a good debut novel and the characters and world-building bring the story to life. However, I felt the simple plot let it down. I will be interested to see whether the next instalment of this series will have a more interesting story, and how the characters, which I loved, each have an equal part to play.



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