Grey Haward has always detested the Chemists, the magicians-come-scientists who rule her small western town. But she has always followed the rules, taking the potion the Chemists ration out that helps the town’s people survive. A potion that Grey suspects she—like her grandfather and father—may not actually need.
By working at her grandfather’s repair shop, sorting the small gears and dusting the curio cabinet inside, Grey has tried to stay unnoticed—or as unnoticed as a tall, strong girl can in a town of diminutive, underdeveloped citizens. Then her best friend, Whit, is caught by the Chemists’ enforcers after trying to protect Grey one night, and after seeing the extent of his punishment, suddenly taking risks seems the only decision she can make.
But with the risk comes the reality that the Chemists know her family’s secret, and the Chemists soon decide to use her for their own purposes. Panicked, Grey retreats to the only safe place she knows—her grandfather’s shop. There, however, a larger secret confronts her when her touch unlocks the old curio cabinet in the corner and reveals a world where porcelain and clockwork people are real. There, she could find the key that may save Whit’s life and also end the Chemists’ dark rule forever.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.60(d)|
|Age Range:||15 - 18 Years|
Read an Excerpt
By Evangeline Denmark
BLINKCopyright © 2015 Evangeline Denmark
All rights reserved.
The Chemist came just before closing. Granddad shot Grey a warning look as he hurried to the front of the store. Time to make herself unnoticeable. As if that were possible.
She returned to her work, swiping a cloth over the filmy glass of a curio cabinet shoved against the back wall. A layer of grime coated the inside, but Granddad never opened it for a thorough washing out, and neither did Grey. As she rubbed the surface, she squinted to make out the shapes within. Movement flickered inside the case. She bent closer. It must've been a shadow.
An odd quiet stretched through Haward's Mercantile. Heat shot through the fabric of Grey's blouse and her skin prickled. The newcomer had spotted her. Surely she didn't stand out so much this close to Four Points. All manner of people walked the streets of downtown Mercury City, and more new and exotic folks stepped off the train every morning.
"Your granddaughter, Olan?" The Chemist's voice wrapped around Grey, compelling her to face the man. Late afternoon shadows cloaked his features — all but the pale green flash of his teeth. The face beneath the top hat fixed on her.
"Grey, best to get on home." Granddad moved to stand between her and the black-garbed man.
Maybe the man simply had business with Granddad. After all, Chemist Council equipment in various stages of repair lined one entire wall of the store. Some of the devices ticked, chimed, or emitted occasional puffs of smoke, though she was most anxious to be rid of the instruments that glowed green. But the stranger near the door ignored the machinery and stepped closer to Granddad.
The air zinged with currents that set Grey's teeth on edge. Chemia. And something more than the green magic — animosity. She stiffened, her lower spine pressing into the waist-high cabinet behind her. Grey reached back and grasped the cold metal edge with both hands. Her feet wouldn't budge.
"Go on now." Granddad glanced over his burly shoulder, the crease between his eyebrows the only mark of concern on his unlined face. "Curfew's coming."
Grey pried her fingers from the curio case and ducked into the back room. Haimon hovered like a ghost a few steps from the cutout doorway. She stifled a squeak and shifted her gaze away from Haimon's scars. "Is he here for an order — the Chemist?"
Granddad's assistant shuffled to the doorway, moved the curtain, and peered into the front of the shop. "No, not Adante."
"But Granddad's done nothing wrong. At least nothing they know of, right?" She searched the small room. The table and rug concealing the trapdoor were perfectly in place, though Haimon had no doubt crept up from the laboratory moments ago.
An instant too slowly, Haimon hid a wary expression. "All's well. You'd best get on home before the last boom."
Grey peeked through the door one more time. Granddad stood in his shirtsleeves and leather apron, a giant amongst the rows of shelves and tables loaded with knick-knacks, foodstuffs, appliances, and mining equipment. He didn't need protection from a sixteen-year-old girl no matter how her instincts screamed stay.
She started and twisted to face Haimon.
He tilted his steely head toward the Chemist. "Adante's nothing your granddad and I can't handle. Now go."
A blast echoed down the hills and carried through the city, rattling windows and displacing dust. End of the day shift. She had just over twenty minutes to get home before the deputies swept the streets for curfew breakers.
Grey grabbed her coat from the hook on the wall and struggled into the tight garment. As if the crimson wool didn't call enough attention to her statuesque frame, the fitted bodice emphasized the reason for the color requirement. Female. Untouchable. She fumbled the frog closures over her full chest and dashed out the back door.
Another blast sounded from the hills above Mercury City as Grey darted up the alley, slipped down a gravel path between storefronts, and emerged onto the Colfax Street walkway.
When her boots hit pavement she slowed her stride and checked her surroundings.
Two men five paces ahead on the sidewalk. A group of miners a ways behind. A draulie clanking up the middle of the street. The light from the hydraulic miner's headlamp glinted off his metal suit and the water cannon attached to one arm. Horses shied away from the draulie's heavy tread, and coach drivers and a lone motorist maneuvered out of his path.
Grey shivered as a bitter wind accompanied the next echo down from the mountains. With her arms clamped against her sides, she sped up and called in warning, "Excuse me."
The men in front of her looked around then stepped away, cramming their hands into their coat pockets. Neither met her eyes or gave any indication that her height and frame were unusual. She sighed her relief and rushed by. Outsiders. From the slums of New York maybe. Or Chicago. Crowded cities where immigrants and tenement dwellers believed the propaganda about the gleaming town in the West. Mercury City, Colorado, where property, provisions, medicine, even education for your children could be had in exchange for honest labor in a Chemist mine. They stepped off the train wanting to work and willing to keep Mercury's strange laws if it meant a chance for a different life. And that's what they got, all right.
By the time Grey reached the corner of Colfax Street and Reinbar Avenue, her breath puffed in quick clouds. She stopped and drew in a mouthful of air that burned as it reached her lungs. White steam shrouded the Foothills Quarter Station a few blocks to the north. A mass of dark figures emerged from the vapor, jostling each other in their hurry to get home. One by one they slowed until each miner became a distinct shape. And each one turned his head from side to side, checking alleys and side streets for deputies.
Grey turned south on Reinbar and walked quickly, the long hem of her coat flapping against her stocking-covered calves. Her knee pants didn't keep her legs warm, but at least they allowed for unencumbered movement. From the back she must look like a red column bobbing along the business district.
Another boom jarred her bones just as a miner passed on her right, giving her a wide berth. She snagged her pocket watch and pressed the catch. The fist-shaped cover sprang open, revealing ten minutes until curfew. She could cut five minutes off if she took the alley behind the ration dispensary, but that meant crossing the street ahead of a crowd of weary workers.
The train whistle made up her mind for her. The deputies would start their rounds only minutes after the last car pulled away from the station. She stepped off the curb, one eye on the returning miners and one on her destination across the street.
"Whoa." The miner nearest her flung his arm to the side as if he could hold back the procession. Heads jerked up and murmurs traveled through the crowd.
"I'm sorry." Grey met the marbled blue eyes set deep in a grime-covered face. Blue eyes? Nobody in Foothills Quarter had blue eyes, besides her family and her neighbor. "Whit?"
He frowned and flicked a glance the way she'd come. "Where's your granddad?"
A shout of "Oy! Let's move!" carried from the rear of the company.
"Held up at the shop," Grey muttered. "Chemist."
"So late?" Whit grimaced. With dirt lining the creases of his face, he looked much older than his eighteen years. He smoothed his expression. "Don't worry. Olan's more mountain than man. He'll be fine."
Grey nodded and darted for the other side of the street amidst the grumbling of the shift workers. As soon as she reached the sidewalk, the throng moved on, their measured steps growing faster as dusk and the threat of deputies stalked behind them.
The sound of boots followed her toward the brick-lined alley connecting Reinbar to the Pewter Street hill and the outskirts of town. She folded her arms, shrinking as much as her stature would allow.
"I'll see you home, Grey." Whit's voice rose above the clamor of curfew hour.
She turned and caught him standing in the gutter, scrubbing at his face with his sleeve. He crammed his tweed cap lower on his clump of coal-black hair. He'd only traded his school uniform for miner's clothes a few months ago, but already he'd changed. His limbs looked harder beneath his coat, and muscle thickened the slope of his neck where it met his shoulder. He straightened, and she could make out the arrow shape of his almost-filled-out chest and lean torso. An ache lodged in her chest and she shook her head. "I'll slow you down. You've seen your Stripe and passed it."
His frank gaze skimmed her. "And you're not far from it."
Her cheeks warmed. "I'm not yet seventeen, as you well know, Whitland Bryacre. If I get caught, they'll just turn me over to my parents for discipline. But you ..."
Beneath the remaining dirt, the color drained from Whit's face. "Best we hurry, then."
He slipped by her into the alley papered with adverts and Chemist flyers. He turned to stroll backward, his smile gleaming in the swift dusk. "It's not against the law to take a shortcut."
Grey's gut twisted. She shouldn't let him do this. They weren't walking home from school, safe in their Council School uniforms. Whit was an adult now. And she was practically a walking sandwich board bearing the slogan Keep Away. But he'd offered to escort her and he wouldn't back out now. The best she could do was hurry and hope they both reached their homes before six o'clock.
"All right, but if you didn't live next door, I'd be refusing the offer." With a glance over her shoulder, Grey followed him into the alley. He shoved his hands into his pockets, and she picked her way over the uneven ground, staying a careful three paces behind.
The thrum of an engine began low and quiet, but it lodged in Grey's chest, sending ice through her veins. Whit melted into the shadows ahead, and she shrank into the space between the wall and a large rubbish bin.
The drone of the chug boat grew louder. Deputies.
She ducked and wedged farther into the corner, covering the beacon of her blonde hair with her arms. A protruding metal seam on the bin dug into her shoulder, but she didn't dare shift position.
Sharp wind lifted the hem of Grey's coat and bit through her stockings. The muscles in her thighs stiffened.
The quick scuffle of his shoes and a muffled wheeze gave away Whit's presence. He'd taken a spot on the other side of the rubbish bin. "Grey?" The worry in his voice coaxed a spark in her belly.
"I'm here," she answered. "You should go. I'll stay out of sight till they pass."
No answer came. Neither did the sound of his retreat. The hum of the chug boat vibrated through Grey's bones and sent spasms up her neck.
"Sounds like they're a block away," Whit whispered. "What can you see?"
She inched her head up. The slice of street behind them was clear. She eased her way toward the mouth of the alley, keeping her back to the brick wall behind her. A beam of light cut through the dusk, illuminating a group of deputies in long dusters with wisps of green vapor trailing up from their face masks. They stalked from Colfax onto Reinbar, their clotters drawn and crackling with energy. Behind the men a dark craft floated low on an emerald cloud of steam. Black pennants with the spiky Chemist Council emblem fluttered from a mast on the boxy wheelhouse, and more deputies clung to pipes and handrails sprouting from the deck, their attention fixed on something out of sight.
Relief mixed with a sick feeling. "They're tracking someone." She and Whit could get away, but some poor soul was bound for a punishment facility tonight.
"Can you see who they're after?"
Snarls and frenzied barking answered his question. The men in the street scrambled into a half circle that tightened with each cautious step. So they weren't hunting a curfew breaker but a pack of animals. Probably coywolves, hungry and desperate this time of year.
Grey crept back to her hiding spot. On the other side of the bin, Whit drew in a ragged breath. She pictured his chest rising and falling. Her pulse quickened and she squelched the image. Shortcuts weren't against the law, but her thoughts about the boy next door might be. "Fraternization between unmarried males and females," the Council called it, or "indecent contact."
Whit's face appeared around the bin, his blue eyes searching for her in the shadows. When he spied her, his shoulders dropped and he released a pent-up sigh. She straightened from her crouch, and gestured toward the section of street visible from the alley. "I think they have the pack cornered."
Whit stole a foot closer to the building's edge. He kept his knees bent and his body poised to run. His jaw clenched, erasing all traces of his easy smile. The shadow of stubble on his chin was thicker than it had been two months ago. What would it be like to slide a finger along his cheek?
She buried her dangerous curiosity as frantic yelps filled the air, underscored by the deputies' shouts. The rumble of the chug boat engine deepened. Whit's eyes snapped to hers.
"A second patrol," he whispered.
She lurched toward him. "You've got to run for it. Get home."
He stared at her, motionless.
"Go. I'll be right behind you."
Whit scanned her face again then his mouth tightened and he nodded once. "I'll watch for you."
He darted down the alley, but Grey hovered between a squat and a spring, her muscles tight. If Whit was caught out after curfew, they'd stripe him for sure. She had to give him a head start. She imagined him already safe in his home, watching from the window as she dashed to her front door, coywolves and deputies on her heels. The image gave her courage — Whit's angular face, his black hair falling in his eyes, ropey arms crossed over his chest. And a wall between him and the Council's deputies.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five. She scooted around the bin. Whit was nowhere in sight.
A shout and a growl sent cold iron through her limbs. Running footsteps, snarls, and a human cry of pain followed.
Grey took a step, but a silhouette in her periphery set her nerves skittering. One glance over her shoulder and the hope of escape evaporated. She whirled to face the threat creeping into the alley.
The coywolf wasn't huge. But his yellow eyes tracked her every move. Matted fur clung to the outline of his ribs, and saliva dripped from his mouth as he advanced. Starving and rabid.
Grey stumbled backward. Where was the patrol now? With Whit safely away, she'd welcome the sight of armed men.
More growls and yelps sounded from Reinbar Avenue along with the clipped tones of deputies fighting off the pack. The coywolf slunk toward Grey, separating her from the mouth of the alley and her only hope of safety.
She took another step backward into the shadow of the buildings. Pain sliced the back of her calf. Her flailing hand met a jagged surface, and she crashed into a stack of pallets behind the ration dispensary.
She braced a bloody palm on the brick wall and pushed to her feet. Eyes locked on the nearing teeth, she scrambled around the pallets. Warm blood seeped down her leg and glued her stockings to her skin.
The animal lunged, teeth snapping an inch from her leg. He charged again, but something hit Grey from behind.
She struggled as her body was swept into jostling motion. Her limbs bounced to the rhythm of panicked steps. Whit. She clenched the fabric of his shirt. The muscles in his shoulders bunched beneath her arms as he ran, carrying her.
"What are you doing? Put me down."
He spoke between gasps. "You're bleeding."
"It's not bad. Put me down, Whit, they'll take you."
"That wolf ... will take ... you."
Grey peered back into the alley. The coywolf gained on them. Whit faltered. She was equal to him in height and almost in weight thanks to her father's genes. Lugging her, he'd never outrun the animal. Grey thrashed against his chest, her wounded hands sliding over his sweat-slicked neck.
"Put me down, Whit. Please."
A heavy whirring sound preceded the blinding green light by a millisecond. Grey's heart seized.
"Drop me," she breathed in Whit's ear.
He halted but kept his grip on her.
Excerpted from Curio by Evangeline Denmark. Copyright © 2015 Evangeline Denmark. Excerpted by permission of BLINK.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Grey has lived under the oppression of the Chemist her entire life. When she is attacked by werewolf type creatures, her best friend, Whit, comes to her rescue sending Whit into a night of hellish punishment and Grey drawing the attention of the Chemist. The Chemist attack Grey’s family sending Grey running to her grandfather’s shop and accidently sucked into an alternate universe through the Curio. The new world is inhabited by clockwork people and Grey soon discovers she’s ran herself right into another tyrannical society. The story jumps back and forth between the Chemist world with Whit’s discoveries and Grey’s exploration, captivity and discoveries in the clockwork world. I’m a big Steampunk fan so this story seemed right up my ally. The overall premise was amazing with highly imaginative and original ideas that would completely blow you away if you weren’t feeling, well, confused. Denmark takes a huge undertaking not just creating one world but two and I think that is where it lost me. Separately, both worlds were very interesting but the jumping back and forth caused a low in the pace. I’m giving Curio 3.5 stars. I was caught between liking it and really liking it. I received this copy of Curio from Zonderkidz-Books - Blink. This is my honest and voluntary review.
CURIO is a book I started to read, couldn't get into, put down, then picked up again when Mom said I needed to read it. It is Steampunk, a genre I've never read, and I think it's really not for me. Once I got started I found CURIO to be a very imaginative book, the author has a very active imagination. In some places it is real and down to earth, but not mostly. She's trapped in a CURIO cabinet and she has to rescue someone so she has to overcome the powers of CURIO. I did enjoy the book and found it very cool. This would be an awesome movie. I really loved some of the things in it. However it was very slow and confusing in some places.
One night, everything went wrong. First, an evil chemist comes to visit, Grey and Whit are caught breaking curfew, Grey’s family is attacked, and Grey is thrust into a different world filled with clockwork people. Her world is falling apart, but at least she has a purpose, if vague—to find “him” and bring him back. But clockwork world, Curio City, has its own problems and politics that she is soon thrown into. Will she manage to complete her quest and return home alive? Evangeline Denmark’s Curio was a fascinating tale of revolution, magic, and romance. Set in two worlds with tyrannical governments, the characters begin to see just how wrong the systems are and step up to right their wrongs. And in the midst of the chaos and life-threatening danger, the characters start fall in love. My favorite part of the novel was the story world. There were two different “worlds”—one in an alternate history (future?) of the United States and one filled with porcelain and clockwork people called Curio City. But Curio City is not a world as much as it is a prison. The plot splits between Grey’s side of the story in Curio City and Whit’s in the human world. There were times when I wondered what the point of investing in so many characters and putting so much of the story in this fake world, Curio, when the characters would travel back to the real one, but I have a feeling that the characters will travel back to it in future novels. The plot was interesting. There were times when I could not put it down and times when it seemed to drag on. I cannot explain why it dragged, since the plot was so complex and moved along so quickly. Perhaps because, as I stated before, it was because I did not understand why the characters spent so much time in Curio when there were more problems in the real world. Whatever the case, I am still glad I read it and plan to read the next book. The magic, well, I did not like the blood part of the blood magic. Just the idea of it grosses me out and seems wrong. But it makes complete sense in the context and was very well done. The Defenders and the Chemists…I cannot wait to see how their conflict will climax in coming novels. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those who enjoy steampunk and young adult fiction. I received a free copy of this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.
In this debut young adult steampunk novel by Evangeline Denmark, we meet Grey Haward, a tall strong girl who tries her hardest to to not stand out by working in her grandfather’s hardware shop. Doing her best to follow all of the rules set before her, she can’t help but wonder if she needs to take the potion that the Chemists dictate that everyone take since both her father and grandfather don’t require it. Then everything changes one night when her best friend, Whit, is caught trying to protect her and she witnesses his punishment. What follows is an exciting story as she Grey discovers secrets and new locations that she didn’t even know exist as she works toward freeing Whit and ending the Chemists rule. Since Evangeline Denmark is the daughter of one of my favorite authors, Donita K Paul, I expected much from her and I can’t say that I was disappointed. I enjoyed every minute of this book and I can’t wait to read more from her! I thought that the style was very gripping and engaging and I didn’t want it to end. Here’s to hoping the next book comes out sooner rather than later. I received a free copy of this book through http://booklookbloggers.com in exchange for an honest review.
When I got this I was so excited this cover is so pretty and well I'm all for Steampunk! But this book shortly in just made me want to fall asleep. I actually dropped the book and hit myself in the face because I had dozed off. I only got to page 50 and that took me over an hour to do. For this reader this story had nothing to keep me reading and was so slow that I fell sleep reading it. I really loved the idea of that these people have to take some supplement to stay alive for some reason their bodies don't process food like we do. However, Grey's dad and granddad's bodies are fine. I really liked the start but it felt like we were dropped into an already going story and although I didnt feel lost per say I felt like the story started fast then dwindled down to a slow crawl. I wish the book would have been faster paced. Go Into This One Knowing Slow, Cool Concept "All opinions are 100% honest and my own."
I received this book for free from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. First off, I love this cover, it is beautiful and the synopsis is wonderful as well. I knew that this book was going to be crazy detailed and there are multiple worlds we, as readers, get to experience. I also heard a lot about this book, on blogs, vlogs, the internet in general and I have to say that it was mixed reviews. So how do you know if this book is really for you? - Well, if you like steampunk, dolls, world building, a strong female lead, and a bunch of craziness - I think you will enjoy this one. If you don't like those things - probably not. The best part about this book is the world building, in the first part you get wrapped up in this horrific society where Chemists run everything. They are the law and you have to follow their rules - no touching the opposite sex, go to work, home before dark, take your ration - which is your only way of survival in this new world otherwise you starve to death. Then as the story progresses you and Grey are thrust into another world, completely different. This world is made of dolls and tinker toys and magic and mystery and Grey has to find someone and then get back out into her world to save it from the evil Chemists. The book was crazy detailed and the worlds were captivating and interesting, sometimes a bit on the strange side, but it seems like in the end it will all work together well. I am not sure how the author decided to go from Chemists and a dystopian society to one with play-things as living beings, but it was something new that I have never read before, so props for that. Grey is our main character and from the very beginning she is strong-willed and you can tell she is not a fan of the Chemists and how her world works. She is determined to help her family and all the people she knows but we follow her as she learns more about herself, these two worlds, and the magic that permeates then both. This was a really fun read and I very much enjoyed it. I don't want to give too much away but I cannot wait to see where the next book leads us.
What a wonderful introduction to a new genre. At least, new to me. Steampunk had no meaning in my vocabulary. It was explained as something like the old “Wild, Wild West” television program where weapons and doodads were anachronistic. That didn’t help much. After reading Curio, I get it! That’s a nice bonus to the pleasure of reading a great story populated by believable and intriguing characters. This author is not afraid to allow her hero and heroine to suffer, make mistakes, and endure the c
Grey Haward's family has a secret. They are different from the others in Mercury City. At least, her father and grandfather are different. They aren't dependent on the potion from the Chemists like everyone else in the city. But the secret is even deeper than that. Even Grey doesn't know, until she risks her life for her friend, Whit, and endangers her family. She finds herself inside of a curio cabinet, where a world exists full of living porcelain and mechanical creatures. Her only clue: find him. There was something about the feel of this novel that I didn't care for. It is the first steampunk novel I've read, so it may be that I just won't be a fan of the genre, and not any fault of the author's. There are, however, other things I didn't care for that were specific to this book. First, the fact that there are two worlds in this novel that I (as the reader) know nothing about, and both are so vastly different from the real world. Just as I was beginning to feel comfortable in Mercury City, Grey is whisked away to Curio. Second, when Grey arrives in Curio she has no idea what she is supposed to do, and neither does the reader. I had no way to judge if she was on the right track or not, and I just felt lost. Finally, and what I believe to be most important, is the intended audience. This is meant to be a Young Adult, Christian novel. While the book offers minor mentions of a Christian theme with talk of a Designer, the YA rating fails. The book is very sexually charged. Within the first chapter Grey's "full chest" is brought to our attention. A rule in Mercury City that forbids touching between men and women brings the sensation of physical touch to the surface. Kissing is described in such a way that it is sexualized more than romanticized. And, this may be a slight *SPOILER* but I feel it's necessary to add, there is a scene about halfway though the book *that basically amounts to attempted rape with descriptive movements of hands and lips.* I was surprised to find this level of sexual content in a book published by Zondervan, let alone meant to be read by teenagers. I definitely would not recommend this book as YA. Despite its flaws, the general story did have promise. I give credit to the author for her vivid imagination, even though I couldn't always picture what she was describing. That may have been on me, since I'm not used to steampunk. That being said, I'm not likely to continue if this turns into a series, for the above reasons. I received a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes from BookLook.
Curio by Evangeline Denmark is a fantasy/steampunk novel for young adults. The storyline is fascinating and, even though I was a little confused at first, it still pulled me in because of the strangeness of the new world. I really appreciated the fact that the story started with instant action since I wasn't left any room to debate if I wanted to read this book. haha Grey Haward knows something is different with her family, and she suspects it's with the potion/medicine that everyone is given so they can eat food normally. One day, it became time to test her theory when her friend, Whit, was taken away for being out after curfew. Once back, Grey is dismayed by Whit's extreme punishment and gives him her medicine so he can get better faster. Nervous that if she eats she'll be in debilitating pain, she doesn't eat all day. But later that night they get a visit from the Chemists coming to take Grey away, and her grandfather tells her to run to his shop. Once at the shop, her grandfather's assistant pulls her to the curio cabinet and tells her to, "find him and bring him back." And with that, she is falling down into a new world with a very different sort of people living there. This book has two of my favorite things: steampunk and fantasy. I loved the story! It kept me glued to the book until I finished it. The characters were intriguing, the worlds were fascinating, and the mission was mysterious. But there is one scene in the Curio that I strongly disliked. It was weird and creepy and definitely not fit for a book touted at being Christian fiction for young adults. The book was technically clean, but it went right to the edge of it. Honestly, I've read cleaner in non Christian fiction! Because of that, I'm lowering the stars. The story itself is a 5 star, but I'm rating it on everything, not just if she has well-developed characters and a great plot, but if I would want my teen reading it and the answer to that is NO. If you are published as Christian fiction then you need to be honorable to that moniker, and I'm sorry but this book does not fit those guidelines. I was so disappointed that such a great book ended up being one that I could not recommend. :-( I was given this book for free from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.
From the moment I slipped into the pages of Curio I was transported. Evangeline Denmark has written an intricately webbed story that will make your heart race and your mind thrill. But, be prepared. The Mad Tock, powerful chemists, and wicked porcies roam these pages. Danger, adventure, romance, and imaginative settings galore! I haven’t been so enthralled since my childhood favorites of The Labyrinth and The Neverending Story.”
I did not enjoy this book and did not finish it.
Grey Haward lives in a world where people can't digest food unless they drink a potion provided by a tyrannical ruling group. When her friend Whit gets punished for saving her life, Grey discovers a hidden trait inside herself - she is a Defender who protects people from tyranny. Just as she's discovering her new powers, she is thrown into a strange new steampunk world in which she must find the Mad Tock in order to escape. Curio had unique plot-line and world-building, and the mystery remained throughout the book. It was good, clean fun with no sex and minimal violence. Both worlds in the book were quite fascinating, and I wish I knew more about each. However, I did have some difficulty because the transition from the first world to the second was quite abrupt. I was just starting to get emotionally involved in the first when it was taken away, and I suddenly had to start from scratch learning the rules of a foreign world. I would have preferred reading two books each with one world than one book with two. It was a little confusing. Overall, I think Denmark has a lot of potential as an author, and will keep a look-out for other books by her.
I recently read Evangeline Denmark’s young adult steampunk dystopian novel, Curio. It’s a magic realism steampunk story set in an alternate version of Colorado in the 1800s, where the residents are oppressed by an all-powerful cadre of alchemists, who control everyone by making them dependent on a potion without which they will starve to death. This is a complex and many-layered story, with elements of alchemy, magic, and romance. The main character, Grey, is a strong heroine who must figure things out and learn how to survive as she finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into intrigue and danger, both in the “real” world and in Curio, which is run by upper class “porcies” who are served by the oppressed “tocks.” Meanwhile, her family and friends face challenges of their own in chemist-controlled Colorado. It is a suspenseful and imaginative tale. To get a taste of this world and enhance your enjoyment of Curio, I highly recommend that you first download and read the e-book prequel novella, Mark of Blood and Alchemy. I will be honest and admit that I might not have been as eager to read it if I had known it was a dystopian novel, because that is not my favorite genre. In fact, this story has two “levels” of dystopia, so it’s a testament to the power of the story that I willingly kept reading to the end! And I should warn you that you may never look at porcelain figurines the same way again. . . . Highly recommended.
What I love most about Curio is that Evangeline creates two distinct story worlds, both which are intriguing and enticing. When I finished the book, I was so engrossed in the story, I was sad it was over. Can I have the next book now please?