Legacy of the Clockwork Key - Kristin Bailey Legacy of the Clockwork Key is a fantastic introduction to a new magical and inventive series, but it is also a wondrous introduction to the genre of Steampunk for young adult readers.

Meg has just lost both her parents to a devastating fire that claimed their home and their fortune. She's left with nothing but is mysteriously taken in by a Lord Rathford who claims to have known her parents and is willing to give her a place to stay, but as a housemaid. Meg was not expecting the unusual and maddening condition the lord insists on keeping his house in, a moment frozen in time. All she has left to keep her sane is a pocket watch that was found in the remains of her family's ruin. Or what she believes to be a pocket watch.

Enter Will, the handsome Scottish tinker Lord Rathford keeps on hand. Meg soon finds that her momento is a master key that can unlock, not only many of her grandfather's inventive mechanisms, but also a secret society where men are judged solely on their vast creativity and ability to manipulate gears and cogs to make unbelievable creations.

It was the combination of plot, characters and writing that really captivated me and left me wanting every time I had to put the book down. The characters were so seamlessly introduced and so individually motivated, it made them so authentic and real; the protagonist especially. Margaret "Meg" Whitlock had her own flaws that were clearly evident and made all the more endearing because of her naive curiosity and fearless determination. She had her own arc of development in the book as did other main characters. Will is first seen just as the muscle as he's "dragged" along for the ride, but soon he's just as willing to protect Meg during the more dangerous parts of their adventure. He easily criticizes Meg for her selfishness but he also has some evident flaws as well. Flaws that he faces and helps him realize that his lack of title isn't as important as he believes it to be. Oliver and Lucinda were two of my favorite characters for their constant tension and shared history together.

The plot was unimaginably creative because in my wildest dreams I could not have come up with some of the fantastic and terrifying adventures Meg and her crew go through. The action as well as the lapses in between are the best parts in the book by far. It's impossible to predict the wild challenges that are set out for the cast of characters.

The writing is what makes the book stand out from others I've read that take place in late 18th century England. The descriptive setting as well as the appropriate English phrases placed in the servants' kitchen with Meg and Mrs. Pratt, as well as in the moors looking down at the remains of Heverdon castle.

All these components make up the incredible and original book of Legacy of the Clockwork Key. The ending was nicely wrapped up and left enough room for more mysteries to be solved and delved into in the sequel, which I will pick up as soon as it's released.

Grade: A

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