Book review: Heart of Brass by Felicity Banks
Heart of Brass is a fun, historical steampunk fantasy set across London and Australia in the 1850s. Author, Felicity Banks has managed to combine all the elements of a great story in such an innovative way, the series as a whole is destined to take pride of place in everyone’s family fantasy collection.
Emmaline Muchamore is a well-bred young woman from an eccentric London family. Determined to move past the stain on their reputation (and economic status) brought about by their father’s arrest and execution for murder, Emmaline and her sisters are focused on making good marital matches and hiding their eccentricities as best they can.
Hiding the fact that your heart is made of brass and powered by steam is not easy, even in a world that revolves around the special qualities of metal and its highly fashionable status. When Emmaline’s heart malfunctions in the middle of afternoon tea with her future betrothed and his mother, she must obtain replacement parties immediately or die on the spot. What she needs, the prospective mother-in-law has, and with no time to ask permission, Emmaline rips the silver locket from the shocked woman’s neck and proceeds to save her faltering heart. Unfortunately, Emmaline then finds herself arrested, in court, and transported to the Colonies before she can even say goodbye to her beloved family. Still hiding her brass heart, Emmaline makes friends with a fellow convict and enemies with another and sets in play a series of adventures that will take her from a smelly, leaky ship to the outback of Australia during some of its most pivotal times. Felicity has woven the magic, adventure, and history together and bound them in a story that will leave you wanting to know what happens next to the intrepid Emmaline and her friends. I especially enjoyed how the characters, quite naturally, becoming embroiled in the Eureka Stockade rebellion of 1854 - very cleverly written - and look forward to her brushes with the law as she flies around the outback with an Irish bushranger, and an Australian-born adventurer in their magical metallic convertible hot-air balloon basket… thing… you really have to read it yourself to work it all out, but it’s amazingly clever and I applaud Felicity on her ability to craft such an inventive story.
I recommend Heart of Brass to teenagers and young adults, and any grown up with a fun sense of the slightly absurd.
Heart of Brass is the first in the Antipodean Queen series published by Odyssey Books and is available for purchase from all the usual places plus Felicity’s website: www.felicitybanks.wordpress.com