The Left-Handed Fate

illus. by Eliza Wheeler. 384p. Holt. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780805098006.
Gr 5–8—Navigating the dangers, depths, and shifting alliances of the high seas is always a tricky affair. Because Lucy Bluecrowne, Maxwell Ault, and Oliver Dexter (pirate's daughter, aspiring natural philosopher, and midshipman–turned–acting prize captain, respectively) are barely teenagers, what might have been merely tricky turns into an undertaking of epic proportions. With settings ranging from the tumultuous Baltimore harbor to the magical fictional port of Nagspeake, this sequel to Milford's Bluecrowne follows the quest for a mysterious ancient engine, a weapon that could perhaps put an end to war. Beautifully written, with careful attention to historical details, the story balances steampunk elements, mythology, and action with plenty of passion, jam, and jokes. The surprising conclusion will astonish and satisfy, despite more than one deus ex machina. Wheeler's textured illustrations add movement and lucidity, making the denser and more difficult to visualize elements of the plot accessible.
VERDICT An unusually rigorous romp for lovers of steampunk, mystery, and swashbuckling adventure.

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