The Revolution is beginning–and Charlotte may be on the wrong side.
In this sequel to The Inventor's Secret, Charlotte and her companions escape the British Empire, but they haven't left danger behind. In fact, if they go against the revolutionaries, they face even greater peril.
Charlotte leads her group of exiles west, plunging into a wild world of shady merchants and surly rivermen on the way to New Orleans. But as Charlotte learns more about the revolution she has championed, she wonders if she's on the right side after all. Charlotte and her friends get to know the mystical New Orleans bayou and deep into the shadowy tunnels below the city–the den of criminals, assassins and pirates–Charlotte must decide if the revolution's goals justify their means, or if some things, like the lives of her friends, are too sacred to sacrifice.
This alternate-history adventure series asks the questions: What would have happened if America had lost the Revolutionary War? And what would people be willing to do to finally taste freedom?
Praise for The Conjurer's Riddle:
"This is classic steampunk [with] exotic and picturesque locales, lots of interesting machinery, and the adrenaline rush of following the adventures of an honest and fearless heroine. A suitably swashbuckling sequel."Kirkus Reviews
"This invigorating series neatly fits into the sagacategory, with loads of adventure, lots of explosions, plenty of pirates, and still some pages left forromance. The dramatic ending sweeps readers right toward the next book."Booklist
"Fans will enjoy seeing Charlotte take on a more serious role as she faces multiple factions while forging her own path."VOYA
Praise for The Inventor's Secret:
* "Cremer...creates an inventive blend of steampunk and alternative history in this new series. She gives readers a fantastical world with mechanical wonders and an opulent vintage setting. The characters are interesting and well developed. Readers will be drawn to future installments."VOYA, starred review
"[A]n entertaining romp in a richly imaginative setting."Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Andrea Cremer (www.andreacremer.com) is the internationally bestselling author of the Nightshade series and of Invisibility, which she co-wrote with David Levithan. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can follow her on Twitter at @andreacremer.
Read an Excerpt
“Courage, poppets. We’re nearly there.”
Her voice, tinged with cheer, belied the chill in her blood. If they arrived at the meeting point only to find it empty, Charlotte didn’t know what her next move would be. The Pisces provided minimal supplies—neither Pip nor Scoff had anticipated this journey. Linnet had offered what aid she could, but the four refugees could only carry so much without sacrificing speed in travel due to weighty goods. Charlotte had despaired when she deemed it prudent to abandon Pocky—the gun had never been intended for ranging—but she took some comfort when Linnet promised safekeeping for Charlotte’s favorite weapon.
Little time could be spared to wait for the others to appear. Charlotte knew they had food enough to last a few days, but if Rotpots and crowscopes scoured the woods for anyone fleeing the Catacombs, it would be too dangerous to stay in one place for more than a night.
If there still are others who survived that explosion and escaped injury to make it this far. Charlotte shivered at the thought. Other questions, should she think on them too long, would cause much worse than shivers. What caused the explosion? An accident? An attack?
Shadows engulfed the last of dusk’s murky light, erasing the already muddled boundaries of the path. Charlotte reached into the roomy pocket of her skirt and fished out the torch Linnet had provided. With each turn of the handle’s crank, sparks jumped from the fine webbed metal on the interior of the torch’s glass-globed head. When the wicks of the beeswax candle within the globe caught fire, Charlotte stopped cranking. The torch offered gentle light, enough to guide her steps, but not so bright as to signal and draw forth enemies.
Pip’s snuffling and broken breath no longer accompanied their hushed footfalls. The path rose sharply and despite her impatience, Charlotte forced herself to take more care in her steps. Thick, twisting roots served as poor replacement for true footholds as they climbed to the top of the ridge. When she crested the rise, Charlotte turned to hand off the lantern to Grave, so Scoff could keep his focus on Pip.
Charlotte crouched down and then crawled slowly forward, belly nearly touching the ground. She stopped when she could spy the rocky outcrop below. Now that the lantern was away, Charlotte let her eyes adjust to the lack of light. After a few moments, she could just barely differentiate the mossy gray boulders from the niche they clustered around. She stared at the crevice, watching for any sign of movement. Any glimmer of lantern light. She saw nothing.
Though her stomach tightened like a fist, Charlotte knew hope wasn’t lost. If Birch followed protocol, then staying out of sight, staying silent would be his aims. She turned away from the ridge’s edge and crawled to her companions.
Pip and Scoff looked at her, tight-lipped but silent. Grave’s face didn’t reveal any emotion, but he stayed quiet like the others.
“We can go down,” Charlotte told them. “It looks safe enough.”
“The others?” Pip whispered.
Charlotte reached out and squeezed the girl’s fingers. “I don’t know yet.”
Pip swallowed hard, but she nodded.
“Shutter the lantern.” Charlotte waited until all three of them were again cloaked in darkness. “We’ll descend along the western slope. Move slowly and with great care; it will be difficult to make out loose stones and uneven ground.”
Moving along the lip of the ridge in a crouch so she could see as much of the ground’s features as possible, Charlotte led the way to the far side of the rise that lay above the clustered, overgrown boulders. The western slope proved more forgiving than the steep climb they’d made from the eastward approach, and they made it to the bottom with nary an incident.
“Wait here.” Charlotte motioned for the others to tuck themselves behind the first stone they reached. “I’ll whistle for you if all is well. If not . . .”
“We know,” Scoff told her. “We’ll run.”
“You too.” Charlotte faced Grave. “Stay with them. Keep them safe.”
“I will,” Grave answered.
“Good.” Charlotte’s blood rushed through her veins as she crept forward. She kept her back against the rough stone, dagger held low and ready.
Charlotte closed on the hollow, edging along the rock as it began to curve inward. She stopped, mouth dry and breath making her chest rise and fall too quickly. She listened, but couldn’t hear anything beyond her own thumping heart . . . except . . .
A soft scrabbling sound came from up and over Charlotte’s left shoulder. Very slowly, she turned and set her eyes high on the boulder face. Something small was coming toward her, crawling along the rock. Charlotte had to hold her breath so she wouldn’t scream as the thing came closer, its claws clicking and scratching as it moved. What had been a featureless blob began to take form. Large ears compared to a small head and body, and very long limbs. It was very near now; Charlotte could hear metal scuff on stone when its limbs dragged across the boulder’s surface.
The scream building in Charlotte’s throat died away, to be replaced by a tremulous hope.
Looking at the little beast, which had stopped and seemed to be waiting, Charlotte dared to whisper. “Moses?”
The creature tilted its small head before launching from the boulder into the air above her. The rapid beating of its wings stirred her hair as it sailed past and disappeared into the niche.
Charlotte wrestled with the impulse to give chase. Knowing how reckless such an action could prove, she continued forward at the same, agonizingly slow, pace until new sounds brought her to a halt. Quiet footfalls stopped on the other side of the massive rock that framed one side of the hollow.
A dizzying wave of relief made her rock back on her heels when she recognized Birch’s voice.
“Charlotte, is that you?”
“Yes.” Charlotte’s answer came out as a croak, even as she sheathed her dagger.
Birch’s head and shoulders peeked from behind the rock. Moses crawled up the front of Birch’s shirt and into its front pocket.
“Merciful Athene.” Birch stumbled out of the niche and took Charlotte’s hands, gripping them tightly. “I didn’t know if you’d come. There was no way for me to get word to you. To tell you what happened.”
A dozen questions wanted to roll off Charlotte’s tongue, but there were other things to attend to first. She summoned her trio of companions with a low bird whistle. When Pip saw Birch she ran forward, arms flailing. Moses scrambled onto Birch’s shoulder just in time to avoid Pip’s crushing hug.
“Mawligh nunf gubba doo” came out between Pip’s sobs and unintentional mouthfuls of Birch’s shirt. “Tirgle onay pucklegin.”
Birch patted her green hair and smiled.
Scoff hooked his thumbs through his suspenders, giving Birch a nod. “Good to see you, mate.”
Though he sounded calm enough, Charlotte noticed Scoff’s muscles quivering. While he’d been consoling Pip, he’d buried his own anxieties. Only now did Charlotte realize how distressed Scoff had been.
Charlotte stepped aside in surprise when Moses took off from Birch’s shoulder to swoop at her. But the bat flew past her to settle on Grave’s folded arms. He’d approached so quietly Charlotte hadn’t even noticed him standing mere inches behind her, and it caused an unsettling hitch in her breath.
“What happened? The Catacombs—” Pip had surfaced and now peered at Birch with wide, glistening eyes.
“It—” Birch started, but Charlotte stopped him.
“Not here.” She pointed to the niche. “Out of sight. Quickly.”
Birch startled at Charlotte’s abrupt tone, but when Scoff and Pip hurried into the nook without pause, Birch fell into line behind them.
“Are you happy?” Grave asked Charlotte, as they walked into the dark opening. Moses had crawled up his head to nestle in his hair.
Charlotte hadn’t grown completely accustomed to Grave’s odd questions, but they no longer surprised her.
“Yes.” She bent her head to the side to work out the crick in her neck. “They could have been hurt. Or worse.”
Without prompting, Grave raised the lantern’s shutters. “But we’re not safe.” He said it like an answer to a question she hadn’t asked.
Charlotte stopped to look at him. Though the bat in his hair made Grave look a bit ridiculous, his expression and bearing were otherwise solemn.
“I would like to make you safe.”
For the second time in a handful of minutes, Charlotte found herself uneasy with regard to Grave. She wasn’t afraid of him; she’d never been afraid of the strange boy. Nothing about Grave exuded malice or aggression. But she’d had only glimpses of who or what Grave truly was.
His wasn’t any empty declaration. If anyone could keep Charlotte—maybe all of them—safe, it was Grave. He had strength and resilience like no one else.
He can’t be killed.
What troubled Charlotte about Grave was her own indecisiveness about his place among them. She didn’t object to his providing defense, but Grave could do more than that.
He’s the perfect weapon.
Charlotte’s skin prickled with awareness. Grave had followed her, even before Ash named her leader of their band of exiles. The dead boy, now alive by mechanics—and magic, if Meg spoke the truth—swore allegiance to Charlotte.
And she didn’t know what to do with him.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Loved the first had to read the second even better
I will do my best to avoid spoilers for either of the books in this review. However, since this is the second book, there may be a couple unavoidable and unintentional spoilers for book 1. So please consider yourself warned and to proceed reading this review at your own risk if you haven't read The Inventor's Secret yet. However, if you decide to not read my entire review, please don't go before you visit the end of this post. Penguin Teen has happily allowed me to host a giveaway for a paperback copy of The Inventor's Secret AND a hardcover copy of The Conjurer's Riddle. You want to enter. Trust me. So make sure you go and enter! The Conjurer's Riddle starts off right where The Inventor's Secret left off. So you are thrown right back into the world with the characters you grew to love rather quickly. The biggest difference in this story though is that Charlotte is in charge of the group. Both Ash and Jack are in New Orleans with the rest of the resistance and she has been unofficially nominated the leader. She was at least kind of expecting it, as Ash had suggested it to her, but it is still a difficult transition for her. So in the beginning, Charlotte's main goal is to get the littlest children from the Catacombs to a safe haven and then to get the rest of the group to New Orleans - to where the rest of the resistance is stationed. A lot happens on the way and after they get there. This book is not short of any action. A lot of it, again, revolves around Grave. The poor guy. Everyone wants him, but only Charlotte wants what is best for him. She has to keep him safe at all costs, but she's not quite sure how to do that or who she can trust to help her. I really enjoyed watching Charlotte grow a bit in The Conjurer's Riddle. While she was already a strong willed individual that could think for herself, she had to come to that even more so. She also had to figure out how to be a leader even though she was afraid. Andrea Cremer has written this series quite well. Like Charlotte, I am still not quite sure who I am supposed to trust. It is hard to tell who is lying to whom. Are they lying to Charlotte? To themselves? To others? Who is telling Charlotte the truth? This series has really reminded me how much I enjoy the steampunk genre. Then in this particular book I was shown just how awesome steampunk with the addition of pirates is. Now I just want to devour more of that concept! This is a fantastic series and I am looking forward to the next one. Do yourself a favor and don't miss out on this one. This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Find more of my reviews here: http://readingwithcupcakes.blogspot.com/