Review: Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Rebel Mechanics by Shanna SwendsonRebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson
Series: Rebel Mechanics #1
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) on July 14, 2015
Genres: Alternate History, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Steampunk
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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four-half-stars

A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing.

It’s 1888, and sixteen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family—but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister—but it seems like the children's young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family’s life. She soon realizes she’s uniquely positioned to advance the cause—but to do so, she’ll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.

Before I talk about Rebel Mechanics and while I have you here reading my review, I want to talk about Shanna Swendson’s Enchanted, Inc. series. Back when I was in high school, I found Enchanted, Inc. at the library. I was into so-called chick-lit at the time, and I grabbed it. Of all the novels I found randomly perusing the library shelves, that one was my favorite. I’ve only read the first four books in the series, not having managed to find time to read the self-published books that came several years later. They’re shippy, fun, and clever. I hoped that Rebel Mechanics would be similar to Enchanted, Inc. in that respect, and it so is.

Rebel Mechanics takes place in an alternate history nineteenth century, in which the upper crust have magical powers and the British still rule the colonies. Though deeply unhappy with both the upper classes and the British, the Americans have not been able to revolt because they’ve been so outclassed by magic and military might. Now, with the advent of steam technologies, the Rebel Mechanics are planning to overthrow both the magical system and the foreign rulers. Swendson had this same deft hand with a unique New York City in Enchanted, Inc. and I’m much impressed.

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Verity Newton, meanwhile, comes to New York City seeking employment as a governess. Thoroughly-educated by her father, a professor at Yale, Verity’s ready to stand on her own two feet and be independent. Though without big dreams of adventure, Verity immediately gets caught up in a bunch of it. Her train is robbed by bandits, and she gets a ride north to her job interview from the rebel mechanics.

I adore Verity. She’s rather prim and proper at times, but underneath she has nerves of steel. Clever and intuitive, Verity cannot stay out of the rebel movement once she’s been drawn in. Her biggest flaw, I think, is that she’s very trusting, but I suspect that’s a flaw that won’t last forever. This is her first time out in the world, and she handles it admirably. Verity is strong of brain and heart, and I love adventuring with her.

gif they do say there's a wild man inside all of us

The romance is adorable, and I’m so on board this airship. Now, I’ve seen some people talking about a love triangle, but I think that’s a bit misleading for the realities of things. What I will say is that I totally got what Verity was feeling at any given point, and I understood the choices she made. That’s all I can really ask honestly. People make mistakes all the time, so I don’t mind them in fiction so long as I feel as the character does and know why they would make that choice. That got a bit off on a tangent, but my point is YES SHIP YES.

There’s more than romance, though. So much more. Verity’s relationships with the family for which she governesses are very important. Lord Henry is adorably clueless, and, despite my feelings on moppets, I feel quite attached to Verity’s young charges. I’m excited to watch Flora, Rollo, and young Olive grow up in the coming novels. Lady Elinor is a surprise and a delight, and I do hope they continue their book club. The Rebel Mechanics have fabulous members too: flirty Colin, brash Lizzie, impish Mick, and scene-stealing Nat. You know a book is wonderful when you love all the supporting characters too.

gif i'm interested downton

Shanna Swendson’s Rebel Mechanics will no doubt charm fans of Gail Carriger’s novels. I also highly recommend it for those looking for novels on the fluffier side.

Favorite Quote:

“I suppose if you have to be trapped someplace when a revolution breaks out, a bookstore isn’t a bad place to be.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif i'm never wrong downton

3 responses to “Review: Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson”

  1. Hannah says:

    Fabulous review! I hadn’t heard of this book before, but adding to my TBR, because it sounds right up my alley. The premise sounds super intriguing.
    Hannah recently posted…Review: Uprooted by Naomi NovikMy Profile

  2. Ooh I love Gail Carriger and fluff! Great selling point at the end of a wonderful review 😀 I read a sample of Enchanted Inc and thought it was so funny, I should see if my library has it.

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