- Title: A Spoonful of Gunpowder
- Author: Katherine H. Brown
- Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
- Genre: Steampunk, Cozy
- Would I recommend:
Think steampunk meets Mary Poppins reimagined in a most delightful way!
Anna-Marie Pauper prides herself on being perfectly practical in every way. Until one day, she isn’t.
An orphan with an interest in tinkering finds herself grown into a thief and a spy and she wants out. She wants more than to do what she is told in order to keep a comfortable life. She wants more than to exist in the world without really connecting to anyone beyond the opportunities to betray them. And she doesn’t want to watch other young girls be pushed headlong into the same fate with no prospects, no choices.
When his supply of orphan girls from London begins to run low, Uncle Ernest wants to know why.
So does Anna-Marie.
She enlists the help of The Procurer, a crime lord known to be able to find anyone or anything, to find the founder of the orphan house she grew up in and the disappearing girls in the city.
But when the founder is dead and an impromptu rescue of many of the missing girls puts a target on her back, she finds herself fleeing London on the airship of the very man who The Procurer said was the heir and new owner of the orphan house, the man she hoped could solve at least some of her problems, and headed straight back to the home of Uncle Ernest to place the girls at his mercy.
Instead, he and his exuberant thirst for life and adventure coupled with his solicitous care of her and the girls adds even more complications to her life and she finds herself thinking thoughts that are not practical at all. Thoughts of freedom. Happiness.
Will a deal struck with Uncle Ernest be the solution?
Can she do one more job, steal one more thing, and finally be free?
Or will her departure from her staid, practical self prove to be her undoing, after all?
I absolutely loved this book! Katherine H. Brown creates a marvelous alternate London set in the Victorian period, and it’s a good representation of the steampunk genre. There are hat tips to Mary Poppins everywhere, from Anna-Marie’s souped-up umbrella to Bert, the amiable coal deliveryman, and so many more.
Anna-Marie was a very likable protagonist. She cares about the girls she left behind at the orphan home and wants better for them. She uses her common sense to solve problems, and she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty (literally or figuratively). She doesn’t shy away from difficult situations, and she’s teaching the girls in her charge to do likewise.
Anna-Marie’s attraction to Captain Ambrose Banks, and his to her, is delightful. Ambrose’s general attitude toward life is so joyful, Anna-Marie can’t help but warm to it. But if she wants to gain her freedom from Uncle Ernest’s employ, she’ll have to find a way to do one last job for him. Can she complete the task and find unexpected happiness with an unexpected man? Read and find out!
The orphan girls – I want to hug them all and feed them and give them a safe place to live. Brown pens a realistic portrayal of the hard lives they led in 19th-century London, and the jobs they might find themselves pressed into with no family to be concerned about them. It wasn’t pretty, even in an alternate universe.
The ending of the book makes it clear that this is not the end of the story. Things aren’t tied up in a tidy package, so if loose ends damage your calm, you’d best brace yourself. I, however, am here for it. The cliffhanger ending has me clamoring for more!
A Spoonful of Gunpowder is an engaging story and a great start to a new series. Five stars from me!
Disclaimer: Thanks to BookSirens and the publisher for a review copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.