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Review: Curio

Posted by on January 6, 2016


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.

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My thoughts…

Curio is set in Mercury City, Colorado in an alternative history ruled by the Chemists with their tyrannical rules, strange potions, and blood magic. But for most of the story, protagonist Grey Haward is spent locked within a strange curio cabinet where she must figure out how to survive among the vain porcelain people and their clockworking counterparts, the tocks.

This blend of steampunk, fantasy, and romance tested my ability to suspend my disbelief, but this is one of my first encounters with steampunk and clockwork.

The characters felt real enough. The world-building and creativity was great, but it seemed we only just skimmed the surface. There was definitely a sense of peril and plenty of adventure to be had. This story would have been great to see on the big screen. But I felt lost most of the time. I had so many questions. Some of them got answered toward the end, so I can only assume there will be more stories to come. Yet it definitely read like a stand-alone with nice closure at the end for the most part.

Overall, I did enjoy the story. Although, about three-quarters of the way into the story, I was making threats against the book and demanding for a good ending, but I am pleased to say the ending came through.

If you like steampunk and romance stories, check this one out. Denmark is an author I will be watching.

***I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher to read and review.***

4 Responses to Review: Curio

  1. sparksofember

    I excited to dive into this one and it was delivered to my kindle yesterday! I love steampunk. Have you heard of the Larklight series? They are very fun and mild steampunk – a good introduction to the genre for the entire family! Anyway, I’m hoping to finish up my current read and get started this weekend!

    • J.L. Mbewe

      Yea! I have read one other steampunk romance novel, Armored Hearts, but it was quite mild on the steampunk. I haven’t heard of the Larklight series, I will look into it! That’s great! I’m not sure what I’ll get started on reading now…I have so many books I want to read already on my shelf or on my kindle, and then I just went to the library and picked up the LAST book in the Artemis Fowl series. Because it was there and staring at me, begging me to take it home. We shall see! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. DJ Edwardson

    Very interesting looking book. Awesome cover as well! I actually really enjoy steampunk myself (romance not so much) and have a steampunk short story up on Kindle. Have you ever thought of putting in a goodreads link for books you review? That’s my preferred method for filing away interesting books for later. Just a suggestion.

    Thanks for the review and featuring this book. You seem to get really good ones to review on your site!

    • J.L. Mbewe

      Hey DJ! I usually put a Goodreads link. Must have forgotten. Great idea though.

      Curio…I fell in love with the cover, so when Evangeline Denmark was looking for people to join her launch team, I jumped at it, breaking my rule of no-more-committing-to-read-and-review. Ha! Just not enough time, but I love doing it. I’m also part of the Christian Science-Fiction and Fantasy blog tour, and I get some cool books through there as well. Check it out, if you’re interested! Here is the link:
      Thanks for stopping by!

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J.L Mbewe - Author