Author: Ekaterina Sedia
Release Date: 11/10/2009
MSRP: $14.95 (Paperback), $6.99 (Digital)
For Fans Of: Steampunk, Robots, Civil Wars
Recommended Audience: Young Adult
The Good: Strong characters, wonderful setting, perfectly paced narrative, makes you feel for her characters strongly
The Bad: May be too linear for people who like grand scale stories
If you want to know what it is truly like to not be human then read this book. The touching and sad tale of Mattie the automaton is a personal story of a girl made of gears and springs who is caught between a political war between gargoyles, alchemists, and mechanics. Her creator, Loharri, has the key to her heart (literally) and she will do anything she can to obtain it whether it be betrayal, death, or befriending enemies. Despite there being a civil war in the background the narrative sticks with Mattie throughout so it doesn’t stray off and get confusing which I really like. The characters are solid and you truly feel a passion for them especially Mattie. The way Sedia describes how Mattie feels is unique in a sense that she can feel pain, pleasure, and taste but can’t truly be human. She has no soul, and if her heart isn’t wound up with this special key every so often she stops functioning.
You really get a sense of how confused Mattie gets and it borderlines eerieness because she is almost human, but Sedia constantly reminds you she isn’t and Mattie really suffers for it. The book has a steady build up of tension and suspense, but has a complete twist ending where most of the main characters end up being who you thought they weren’t and events taking a twist that you would never expect. The ending is extremely sad, but all-the-while you stay in Mattie’s thoughts which makes you truly see and feel the suffering of the only talking feeling robot among humans.
Mattie is also on a quest to make the gargoyles mortal and break them away from stone (thus the title), and Mattie strives for being the best known alchemist around. The steampunk setting is shows through in the fantastical way that things operate without any explanation as to how or why. Sedia really takes advantage of this and brings things to life that wouldn’t be possible in any other type of setting. All that I can say from here is that I was extremely touched by this book. Sedia has a meditative way of writing that makes you stew in her characters feelings. This book is for fans of steampunk or books that follow one character and make you feel what they feel.