Rating: 1.5/5 stars
Series: Curio, Book 1
Genres: Steampunk, Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Magic, Paranormal, Romance, Dystopia
Right off the bat I have to say that I was disappointed in this story. After reading the book’s blurb, I was really looking forward to getting immersed in this world. The only thing was, there was no real world to get into. Sure the characters exist in the pages and events take place, but as the reader you’re never given insight into the world – how it works, what it looks like, etc. The fact that this story takes place across two different “worlds” should make it clear that some definition of the world the character is in needs to be given. Other than knowing which character you’re following (as this book has multiple Points Of View) there’s no real way to tell what the world is like outside of the scene.
Sure, we might know that Grey is in a manor at one point – but what is the manor like? There’s a fountain in the entrance, but what else is there? Is there a place to sit, any artwork on the walls? How many doors lead off of the entrance? It felt as if Denmark only touched on these things when it helped move the plot forward. Can the reader trust that that specific door had always been there? Who knows, since we never get any actual detail about locations. The times when Denmark begins to explain the scene it almost feels as if she got bored of her own explanation so just cut herself off mid thought.
On top of the world not being fully realized, I found it hard to follow along with the different POVs. While sometimes the switch would happen during chapter breaks, occasionally it would happen in the middle of a chapter with no warning. On top of this, the story went long stretches of time without switching to a given character’s POV. As I didn’t read the book in one sitting but rather over a couple of consecutive days, I found it hard to remember where a character had been x number of chapters ago. It made it hard to get back into the story after putting the book down for any length of time. As well, it felt like the story was being pulled in too many directions at once. While different POVs can be a useful writing tool, I felt it detracted from the story in this case.
If you managed to drag yourself through the world like I did, chances are you’ll be disappointed with the ending. I’m all for cliffhangers and stories that aren’t perfectly wrapped up by the end but I’d like so see at least some resolution to the events of the story. As this isn’t the first book in a series but rather a story all to itself – the only companion book is a prequel story which is why there’s a “series” for this novel – there should have been a real ending. Instead, I’d say 90% of the plot that we get to experience in the story gets left unsolved. The main reason that Grey goes into the world of porcies and tocks was to find a way to “save Whit’s life and also end the Chemists’ dark rule” (taken straight from the book’s synopsis) but it is never realized in any tangible way. Instead, the reader is given a half-assed ending and left to wonder if there’s a real resolution after the story has come to a close.
Overall, I would not recommend this story to anyone. There are much better steampunk novels out there where you can experience a complete world and deep characters. Unfortunately, this story (in my opinion) had neither of these things. While the premise of the story had promise the follow through wasn’t there.
The main conflict at the start of the story is the potion dependence that the citizens of Mercury find themselves dealing with and the Chemists’ absolute rule over the distribution of rations to the citizens of the city. When Whit gets punished for helping Grey, she decides to given him her ration in order to help him heal. After all, she’s pretty certain that she can survive without it. When Adante finds out that Grey gave away her potion, he uses it as an excuse to get rid of the Haward family. Grey needs to find a way to rescue her family and get rid of the potion dependency in order to save Whit and those like him.
While “a lot” happens in this story, you’d think that by the end of the story these things would have been dealt with. Sure, Denmark gets Grey’s dad out of his punishment and Whit isn’t at risk of dying of potion dependency at the end of the story. But the “resolution” to both of these problems is a pretty big cop out. Grey wins a duel against Adante – through both of them cheating but by her cheating more successfully – which granted her father his freedom. The only reason that Whit managed to get over the potion dependency was because Steinar decided to turn Whit into a Defender. It’s not like a solution was found to save the population – just Whit and the two friends he made throughout the book.
And what’s going to happen to the porcies and tocks? When we leave them they’re in the middle of a revolution. Does their world continue to run now that Blaise has escaped from his prison? Has the world frozen again, taking the life from them since it was Chemist magic that gave them life in the first place? Are Grey and Blaise going to be able to return to this world like they promised? None of these questions are answered, leaving this whole plot-line of the story – the major conflict, I’d say – as a bunch of loose ends. The way the world works is never explained, leaving more questions than answers.
What’s going to happen now that Blaise is out of his prison? He was supposed to be the key to end the Chemists’ rule, but nothing changed by the end of the book. Sure him being in the “real world” meant that the Chemist council wasn’t going to actively try to kill Grey and her family, but the story didn’t leave them in a truce. In fact, things are even worse by the end of the book because we’re told that the Chemists have a bunch of Defenders still alive in the Chemists’ tower. We’re left with the knowledge that x amount of Defenders are still alive and living in pain but that’s it. There’s no resolution to this new problem that was introduced at the end of the book. There’s no sequel story where this is dealt with, so there’s no reason to bring the problem to the reader’s attention.
The one thing I enjoyed about the story was the idea that a Defender could find their soulmate through their defender mark and could always tell when they’re close to each other. I found that to be a really cute sentiment and an interesting plot choice. However, this wasn’t enough for me to actually like the story once it was done. It did add a little enjoyment to my read, but not enough.
If you’ve read Curio, did you have a different opinion about the story? Going online I can see there a bunch of positive reviews about it, but I can’t relate to any of the sentiments that I read. If you can change my mind about any part of this story, I implore you to do so. I don’t like finishing a story and not enjoying it.