Seventeen-year-old Petra Wade, self-taught clockwork engineer, wants nothing more than to become a certified member of the Guild, an impossible dream for a lowly shop girl. Still, she refuses to give up, tinkering with any machine she can get her hands on, in between working and babysitting her foster siblings.
When Emmerich Goss—handsome, privileged, and newly recruited into the Guild—needs help designing a new clockwork system for a top-secret automaton, it seems Petra has finally found the opportunity she’s been waiting for. But if her involvement on the project is discovered, Emmerich will be marked for treason, and a far more dire fate would await Petra.
Working together in secret, they build the clockwork giant, but as the deadline for its completion nears, Petra discovers a sinister conspiracy from within the Guild council … and their automaton is just the beginning.
The Brass Giant, first published in 2011 under the title The Clockwork Giant, is a short and sweet novel about a girl named Petra who wants to be an engineer, a desire thwarted by the fact that she was born female. Trying to sneak into university, she catches the eye of Emmerich Goss who realizes her inborn talent and comes to her for help with his secret project. There’s a lot to like in this book: unlike other books where the protagonist happens to deus-ex-machina her way into a learning institution she otherwise couldn’t get into, she can’t. At the end of the book, when she does get her wish fulfilled, it’s decidedly a bittersweet victory and the circumstances surrounding are hardly what would you call ideal. The budding romance builds up at a pace that makes sense and I enjoy the fact that it’s a match of minds as much of anything else. I could have done with the jealous non-boyfriend, and I wish there was more to the Luddites hatred of the Guild. While we can personally see why the Guild is bad, there’s nothing in what we see in the day-to-day life that would indicate the kind of corruption they suggest. While more rounded it out than most novels of this length (sub-200 pages) this is one area in which it was lacking.
Reviewing the author’s Goodreads page, there is a novella due to be republished in June and a third book (length unknown) due in September. I do hope the third book is of a longer length so this world can truly be fleshed out. This was a good read, and I’d like to see what the author could do given the space to do so.
Verdict: Buy It
Available: May 5