Believathon: Book with a Strong Sense of Friendship- Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

I chose this steam-punk alternate-reality historical fiction adventure to read during Believathon as my Book with a strong sense of Friendship prompt but it also could apply for Animal character (albeit mechanimal!) and Seasonal as it takes place during November, maybe even Takes Place in the Past as it’s set in a fictionalised alternative Victorian London.

Cogheart bookcover
Cover illustrations by Becca Stadtlander

Lily doesn’t like deportment, nor conversational French and certainly not being a ‘lady’ but she is stuck at Scrimshaw’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies until further notice with only her penny dreadfuls to ease the experience.

But one day she is called to the Headmistress’ office to be informed her father is missing, presumed dead and the housekeeper Madame Verdigris is to take her home.

Little does she know that she is in mortal danger as a group of terrible people are after something of her father’s and are prepared to stop at nothing to get it.

As her mechanimal friend Malkin and the local watchmaker’s son Robert are drawn in, Lily finds out more about her past, her father and friendship.

The Trouble was, Lily reflected…she didn’t want the life of a well-bred Victorian young lady, she wanted the life of an air pirate.

As we meet Lily you can Smell the old books and chalk watching the dust motes dancing in the corridors kissed by the afternoon sun. Bunzl has a wonderful style with careful application of visually evocative vocabulary to communicate much about the setting immersing us in this world yet keeps the narrative tight and pacy.

I really enjoyed returning to the world of dirigibles, steam and whirring cogs. I was aware of crucial spoilers as I had read SkyCircus back in October 2018 but it did not reduce the enjoyment, and as the plot thunders along merrily in an exhilarating adventure and I hope that we get to know the characters in more detail in Moonlocket.

But one thing I do know is this… feelings and intuition, love and compassion, those are the things that make a soul, not blood and bones or machine parts.

Knowing this is a multiple book story arc makes sense as a lot of cards are played close to Bunzl’s chest with the characters revealing only upper layers of themselves as the book progresses and yet due to the early onset of peril combined with good hearted personalities we care quickly about their fate and want things to go well for them.

By the end of the book we have a start but still a long way to go to understanding what makes Lily and Robert tick (ha!) but the reader certainly have become invested and I’m definitely going to be seeking out Moonlocket to continue this story.

Cogheart by Peter Bunzl is published by Usborne.

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