by Kate Maddison
Series: Charlotte Sycamore #2
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Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Sycamore lives in Buckingham Palace and is hiding her secret identity. Surrounded by scientific inventions and mechanical creatures of Victorian London, Charlotte trusts only her closest friends with the truth. Should her mysterious identity be revealed to the world, she would be executed by the Queen's court. Charlotte's father, private physician to Queen Victoria, is unaware that his seemingly timid daughter is the treasonous thief that he and Scotland Yard seek to capture. They believe they are looking for a "man" who is stealing medical supplies from Her Majesty to treat the poor of London. It's the same thief they accuse when two of the Queen's most valuable horses are stolen. A reward is placed on Charlotte's head.
Torn between her dutiful love for her father and the blossoming, confusing feelings she has for her daring ally, Peter, Charlotte sneaks out of Buckingham Palace with the help of her trusted friends. She struggles with the dangers of first love and how she fits into this complicated world. It’s up to Charlotte, Peter, Benjamin, Adam, Polly, and Jillian to sword fight through the gaslit streets of London and travel halfway around the world in an experimental device to locate the horses, bring the true criminal to justice, and to never reveal Charlotte's true identity.
I love a good steampunk novel wrapped in mystery and was delighted to read The Incredible Charlotte Sycamore and the Secret Traps by Kate Maddison. The author suggested and it is true, this will work as a standalone. For me, however, I think my connection to the characters would have been stronger had I first read, The Incredible Charlotte Sycamore. Featuring a young cast of characters who meddle in mysteries and dabble in steampunk with a sweet understated romance The Incredible Charlotte Sycamore and the Secret Traps was an engaging tale.
Five Caffeinated reasons to read The Incredible Charlotte Sycamore and the Secret Traps
- If you love a good mystery set in Victorian London wrapped in steampunk you will enjoy this tale. Charlotte lives at Buckingham Palace with the Queen of London. Her father is Queen Victoria’s private physician.
- The plot is engaging. Unbeknownst to the Queen and her father, Charlotte is the thief they are looking to hang. Medical supplies are missing, but Charlotte had a good reason for taking them. Call her “Robin Hood” for she uses them to help the poor. Poor Charlotte longs to be a Doctor, a feminist before her time; she is a clever girl and creates some of the coolest gadgets. When someone steals the Queen’s prized horses Scotland Yard and Charlotte’s father assume it is in same daring thief. Together with her maid and friends, Charlotte sets out to find the culprit.
- There is a forbidden romance, which began, in the first novel. It is sweet and clean but complicated by an arranged engagement. This is a clean romance and will work for advanced Middle-Grade readers. I liken it to a Nancy Drew novel with the added bonus of geeky gadgets. Peter is a wonderful, and sweet. He tries to do the right thing, and accepts his place but cannot help stealing a few kisses.
- The steampunk elements are unique from message sending devices, a robot, mechanical owls and a time-traveling device. I loved how clever and resourceful these little detectives were, and how they used these gadgets to assist in solving the case.
- Twists and turns as Charlotte and her friends work to solve the case, and escape danger will keep the reader entertained. The case wrapped up nicely, while Charlotte and Peter’s fate remains unclear. It will be interesting to see what case they stumble upon next.
The Incredible Charlotte Sycamore and the Secret Traps was a fun, well-paced tale with just the right amount of mystery and romance to please young readers.