In this world, sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth, they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.
The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery. Perfect for fans of Libba Bray's The Diviners, Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel, Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan and Phillip Reeve's Mortal Engines.
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
Read an Excerpt
New York Wildlands, Amherst Province, 18161.Every heartbeat brought the boy closer. Charlotte heard the shallow pulls of his breath, the uneven, heavy pounding of his footfalls. She stayed curled within the hollows of the massive tree’s roots, body perfectly still other than the sweat that beaded on her forehead in the close air. A single drop of moisture trailed along her temple, dripped from her jaw, and disappeared into her bodice.
The boy threw another glance over his shoulder. Five more steps, and he’d hit the tripwire. Four. Three. Two. One.
He cried out in alarm as his ankle hooked on the taut line stretched between two trees. His yelp cut off when his body slammed into the forest floor, forcing the air from his lungs.
Charlotte lunged from her hiding place, muscles shrieking in relief as they snapped out of the tight crouch. Her practiced feet barely touched the ground and she ran with as much silence as the low rustle of her skirts would allow.
The boy moaned and started to push himself up on one elbow. He grunted when Charlotte kicked him over onto his back and pinned him against the ground with one foot.
His wide eyes fixed on the revolver she had aimed at his chest.
“Please,” he whispered.
She adjusted her aim—right between his eyes—and shook her head. “I’m not in the habit of granting the requests of strangers.”Charlotte put more weight onto her foot, and he squirmed.
“Who are you?” she asked, and wished her voice were gritty instead of gentle.
He didn’t blink; his eyes mirrored the rust-tinged gleam of the breaking dawn.
“I don’t know.”
“Say again?” She frowned.
Fear bloomed in his tawny irises. “I . . . I don’t know.”
“You don’t know,” she repeated.
He shook his head.
She glanced at the tangle of brush from which he’d emerged. “What are you running from?”
He frowned, and again said, “I don’t know.”
“If you don’t know, then why were you running?” she snapped.
“The sounds.” He shuddered.
“Sounds?” Charlotte felt as though frost had formed on the bare skin of her arms. She scanned the forest, dread building in her chest.The whistle shrieked as though her fear had summoned it. The iron beast, tall as the trees around it, emerged from the thick woods on the same deer trail the boy had followed. Imperial Labor Gatherers were built like giants. The square, blunt head of the machine pushed through the higher branches of the trees, snapping them like twigs. Two multijointed brass arms sprouted on each side of its wide torso and its long fingers were spread wide, ready to clutch and capture. Charlotte’s eyes immediately found the thick bars of its hollow rib cage.
“Who sent a Gatherer after you?”
His voice shook. “Is that what it is?”
“Are you an idiot?” She spat on the ground beside him. “You must know a Rotpot when you see one! Everyone out here knows how the Empire hunts.”
The screech of metal in need of oiling cooled Charlotte’s boiling temper. A horn sounded. Another answered in the distance. But not nearly distant enough.
She didn’t have time to mull over options. She lifted her foot from the boy’s chest and offered him her hand. The only advantage they had over the Rotpots was that the lumbering iron men maneuvered slowly in the forest.
“We need to leave this place. Now.”
The boy gripped her fingers without hesitation, but he shot a terrified glance at the approaching Gatherer. They were partially concealed from view by a huge oak, but the machine was close enough that Charlotte could see its operator shifting gears from within the giant’s iron skull. She watched as the man reached up, pulled down a helmet with telescoping goggles, and began to swivel the Rotpot’s head around.
Charlotte hesitated a moment too long. And he saw her.
Cranking hard on a wheel, which made steam spout from the machine’s shoulders, the operator turned the iron man to pursue them.
“Go!” Charlotte shoved the boy away from her. “Run east! I’ll catch up.”
“What are you—” he started to ask, but began to run when she pushed him so hard that he almost fell over.
When she was certain he wasn’t looking back, Charlotte reached into her skirt pocket. Her hand found cool metal, and she pulled a small object from within the folds of muslin. It only took a few winds of the key before sputters and sparks leapt from her palm. She sighed and regretfully set the magnet mouse on the ground, pointing it at the encroaching machine. The little creature whirred and skittered away, its spring-anchored wheels accommodating the rough path she’d set it upon.
When Charlotte caught up with the boy, she ignored the puzzled look on his face and grasped his hand, forcing him to run with her into the dark western wood, away from the now bloodred haze of early sun that stretched through the forest canopy.
Between gasps of breath, his fingers tightened on hers. She glanced at him.
His tawny eyes had sharpened, and he peered at her like a hawk. “What’s your name?” he asked.
Charlotte dropped his hand and gathered her skirts to accommodate her leap over a moss-covered log.
“Thank you for not leaving me back there, Charlotte.”
She looked away from him, nodded, and ran a bit faster. Behind them she heard the explosion she’d been waiting for. Though they were hardly out of danger, Charlotte smiled, feeling a surge of triumph. But a moment later, a single thought chased her giddiness away.
Ash is going to kill me.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great book filled with action and an awesome love story The writer is not only a good writer but a good but has words that grabs your attention and mind.
First off, try to excuse my spelling. I'm a terrible speller, and typing this on my nook doesn't make it any easier, but I will try my best to give at least a half-way decent review of this book: The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer. In my opinion,Ms Cremer had a good idea going, but it was poorly executed. The characters were also poorly done. Charlotte is not a very likeable chatacter and got on my nerves really quick. I had zero tolerance for her attitude and I couldn't stand the way she constintly complained about being treated like a child, even though she repeatedly acted like she was 12 instead of 16, and was highly immature and impulsive. I couldn't stand her. For me, I have to like the characters somewhat, or at least understand where their coming from when they act certain ways, for me to enjoy a book, and Charlotte, being the main cjaracter, failed to do anything except annoy me. Unfortunatly I can't get into the other aspects I disliked about this book because I don't want to spoil it for any readers, but I will say that the charcters were the very least of the issues I had reading this. If you like steampunk novels try curtsies and conspiracies instead. Well I didn't particularly enjoy that one either, (I'm not a big steampunk fan) it was still better than this one.
Simply couldn't get into it. I didn't like the characters or the way they interacted, the writing felt very description heavy, and the actual word choice itself felt unnatural. I wanted to like it, but I just couldn't.
I though the story was great and I think young readers will enjoy it and antisipate the next one in the series.
I’ve been a big fan of Andrea Cremer ever since I started reading her Nightshade series and her co-written novel Invisibility. Both were amazing and so I was excited to get reading The Inventor’s Secret. While I have never been very interested in the steampunk genre I knew that this would have to be something good considering who the author is. The Inventor’s Secret was not what I expected it to be but it was still a thrilling, imaginative read. The story revolves around sixteen-year-old Charlotte who has been hiding inside of the Catacombs on the edge of the industrial empire in Britain after they won the Revolutionary war. Preparing to join the Resistance, the very last thing that Charlotte expects is to come across a boy with no memory of who is he is where he’s from and save his life. Taking him into the Catacombs, the boy tells them that only bad things and a dark future are fast approaching. With that information, Charlotte, her brother Ash, Jack and a few of her other friends, travel into the city to search for answers. Only Charlotte doesn’t expect their journey to be so dangerous or for romance to bloom on her journey. As always with Andrea Cremer, the thing that made me love reading The Inventor’s Secret was Cremer’s writing. There’s a perfect combination of details and flow that made reading the novel go by surprisingly fast. I really liked the way we got to see Charlotte’s situation and the people around her in the story through the way that it was written. Every chapter was easy to visualize in my head while reading, kind of like it was a movie that just kept on going. That was one of the things that was very well done. What makes this novel work is the characters and the world-building. I had very little confusion as to what was happening and where the characters were and this steampunk Britain (or Britannia) was pretty awesome. Back on the topic of characters, Ash, Jack and Charlotte were three characters who grow a lot throughout the story and I mean Jack was pretty hot. There is a romance aspect of the novel and I want to say right now that Jack was my favorite. All of his little comments and his mysterious background just made him so overly perfect and the romance between him and Charlotte was very sweet. Still, I do wish that there was more action involved in the plot. After Charlotte finds Grave at the start of the novel everything for the next hundred pages was very slow. Charlotte ends up sneaking into high society Britannia to get some answers and from then on the novel is mostly her trying not to get caught while also evolving her relationship with Jack while also unravelling the mystery of who Graves is and where he came from. In the end there still are a lot of plot holes and unanswered questions and I hope that in the next novel we get to find out some more and get some more action thrown at us. As a reader who doesn’t go through much steampunk I thought that The Inventor’s Secret was pretty good and that any readers who are interested in the genre would genuinely enjoy The Inventor’s Secret. I would recommend the novel to people who enjoy the genre, readers who want a novel that focuses on a world where Britain won the revolutionary war and to any readers who also want to experience a male lead like Jack.