Beast Heart

Meerkat. (Steambound Trilogy: Bk. 1). Mar. 2020. 280p. pap. $15.95. ISBN 9781946154354.
Gr 6 Up–Nine-year-old Gabby has always felt like an outsider with her clunky, mechanized goggles. A week before beginning a new school, her hand turns to steam. She can use her hand if she wears a clockwork prosthetic, but then she feels even more like a “freak.” Gabby’s world falls apart when her mother is mauled to death by an Aílouros, a cat-like werewolf. Left in the care of Detective Shaw, Gabby becomes Brielle, hunter of the Aílouros. Alternating chapters feature Kemple, a teenage boy who has just escaped an abusive foster home and come to the city of Iron Bay. When he is attacked in a darkened alley, Kemple is plunged into a feverish state and wakes to discover strange new instincts and an urge to hunt humans. A beast rages inside him, and he is forced to fight for possession of his body. This first book of a trilogy features characters who are white as the default. The description of mechanical hands and goggles suggests steampunk; however, the weak world-building creates an unclear sense of setting.
VERDICT Readers will likely lose interest with the slow rising action and the choppy time jump. Not recommended.

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