Author: Kristin Bailey
Series: The Secret Order, #1
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
A teen girl unravels the mysteries of a secret society and their most dangerous invention in this adventure-swept romance set in Victorian London.
When a fire consumes Meg’s home, killing her parents and destroying both her fortune and her future, all she has left is the tarnished pocket watch she rescued from the ashes. But this is no ordinary timepiece. The clock turns out to be a mechanical key—a key that only Meg can use—that unlocks a series of deadly secrets and intricate clues that Meg is compelled to follow.
Meg has uncovered evidence of an elite secret society and a dangerous invention that some will stop at nothing to protect—and that Meg alone can destroy. Together with the handsome stable hand she barely knows but hopes she can trust, Meg is swept into a hidden world of deception, betrayal, and revenge. The clockwork key has unlocked her destiny in this captivating start to a trilogy.
Legacy of the Clockwork Key is a fantastic introduction to a new magical and inventive series, but it is also a wondrous introduction to the genre of Steampunk for young adult readers.
Meg has just lost both her parents to a devastating fire that claimed their home and their fortune. She's left with nothing but is mysteriously taken in by a Lord Rathford who claims to have known her parents and is willing to give her a place to stay, but as a housemaid. Meg was not expecting the unusual and maddening condition the lord insists on keeping his house in, a moment frozen in time. All she has left to keep her sane is a pocket watch that was found in the remains of her family's ruin. Or what she believes to be a pocket watch.
Enter Will, the handsome Scottish tinker Lord Rathford keeps on hand. Meg soon finds that her momento is a master key that can unlock, not only many of her grandfather's inventive mechanisms, but also a secret society where men are judged solely on their vast creativity and ability to manipulate gears and cogs to make unbelievable creations.
It was the combination of plot, characters and writing that really captivated me and left me wanting every time I had to put the book down. The characters are so seamlessly introduced and so individually motivated, it made them so authentic and real; the protagonist especially. Margaret "Meg" Whitlock had her own flaws that were clearly evident and made all the more endearing because of her naive curiosity and fearless determination. She had her own arc of development in the book as did other main characters. Will is first seen just as the muscle as he's "dragged" along for the ride, but soon he's just as willing to protect Meg during the more life-threatening parts of their adventure. He easily criticizes Meg for her selfishness but fails to see his own flaws and insecurities. He confronts these flaws and it helps him realize that his lack of title isn't as difficult an obstacle to overcome as he believes it to be. Though Meg and Will made a good match as partners and love interests, Oliver and Lucinda were two of my favorite characters for their constant tension and shared history together.
The plot was unfathomably creative because even in my wildest dreams I could not have come up with some of the fantastic and terrifying adventures Meg and her crew have to face. The action as well as the lapses in between are the best parts of the book by far. It's impossible to predict the wild challenges that are set out for the cast of characters.
The writing is what makes the book stand out from others I've read that take place in late 18th century England. The descriptive setting as well as the appropriate English phrases easily placed me in the servants' kitchen with Meg and Mrs. Pratt, as well as in the moors looking down at the remains of Heverdon castle.
All these components make up the incredible and original book of Legacy of the Clockwork Key. It was a surprisingly quick read that piqued my interest till the unveiling of the repeatedly-stated dangerous Amusement that has everybody in the S.O.M.A. in hiding. The ending was nicely wrapped up and left enough room for more mysteries to be solved and delved into in the sequel, which I will pick up as soon as it's released.