Book #51 for 2015
I zipped right through this on the way home from Washington, and it was delightful in so many ways that I was tempted to give it five stars. It gave me a better idea of what Ida Lovelace and Mary Shelley were like and how they might have interacted if their timelines had actually meshed like in the book. And I’m not docking the book a star for tinkering with timelines. I write steampunk and absolutely love tinkering with the 19th century, so I have zero room to talk. No, my discomfort with this story has more to do with Peebs and the mystery.
I’m not going to spoil the Peebs reveal, but I will say that I was a little disappointed in the sugarcoating. Yes, the notes at the end of the book go into some detail about later interactions, but it all felt so sanitized. I suppose this is a children’s book, and I should just let it go, but it still feels dishonest to me.
The mystery was, of course, inspired by Wilkie Collins’s much-revered novel, The Moonstone. Well, much-revered by people who are not me. I thought it kinda sucked. So when I saw where this mystery plot was going, I groaned inwardly. And the acorn shape of the moonstone in question bothered me. I’ve seen moonstones only as cabochons. Is that an actual thing, carving a moonstone into a shape? Maybe it is, but every single time they talked about the moonstone being acorn-shaped, it pulled me out of the story.
I have to remind myself that I am not the target market for this book. For its intended audience, I’d say this is probably a really good read. Young readers will be less concerned with things like moonstone shapes and the realities of 19th-century courtship, and they can focus on the fun aspects of the story, of which there are many. This story also presents truly interesting and capable female protagonists, which is a very good thing.