When Katharine's uncle is suspected of going crazy and wasting his fortune, Katharine is sent to investigate so that her aunt can take control of the fortune instead. But once she arrives, Katharine finds that her uncle employs around 900 people who had previously been stuck in workhouses. And her uncle is a brilliant inventor who has created devices the like of which she's never seen. Katharine finds herself faced with a dilemma—turn her uncle in to protect her inheritance so that she may one day have freedom or protect her uncle and the people there for as long as she can.
I really loved the characters here. Katharine's conflict throughout the story was very understandable, and she was easy to sympathize with as the story continued. I'll admit, she wasn't so likable at the start, but she grew on me as she got to know everyone at her uncle's place. Her uncle was fantastic as well, and I really liked the relationship they developed. It was very cute.
There was romance in the story, but it never hijacked the plot, which I really appreciated. And I could definitely understand why they liked one another as well.
While a lot of the conflict comes from Katharine's dilemma for what to do about her uncle, there are other forces at work that create a mystery. Shortly after arriving, Katharine finds herself losing control and forgetting things. As she tries to find a solution for her original problem, Katharine begins to realize that she can't always trust herself to know what is real. I really liked how her loss of self was conveyed through the story. With Katharine as our narrator, we got an idea of the unreliability of her own experiences and the confusion it caused. Of course, I have a fondness for unreliable narrators of all kinds, so I was very happy with this development.
I will say that, while I've seen it labelled as steampunk, I really don't think that's accurate. While there are the uncle's inventions, nothing else about the world is steampunk. So if you're picking this up solely because of the steampunk label, you might find yourself a bit disappointed.
Overall, it was a good read with a lot of fun characters and an interesting mystery.