Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins
Princess Ratiana Clementine Saint John of the submersible Victoriana is about to become a queen. Unfortunately to do so she has to get married and that is way down on her list of priorities behind learning to run the Victoriana, learning to fight with proficiency and most of all, vexing her parents. At 14 she is now old enough to become queen and awaits the arrival of her betrothed.
The Aesthetes are perceived as weak, precious perhaps, and Rat, as she likes to call herself, simply can’t imagine Prince Simeon being at all suited to her. It seems the prince has the same opinion of Princess Rat, with her boyish clothes and manners to match. The betrothal has to begin with a series of trials set by the four submerged communities, and Rat and Simeon will have to learn to work hand in hand if they are to triumph.
A young adult steampunk novella wouldn’t fall into my usual reading wish list but I’m always open to new suggestions and I have to say I’m glad I got hold of this book. It was a quick and enjoyable read and a pure run of escapism. The worldbuilding is its biggest strength by far and I found myself in a world where something as simple as looking at the time becomes a beautifully descriptive piece of prose.
Considering the length of the piece, the characters, even the supporting cast, are surprisingly well detailed and likeable in their not always favorable portrayal. The relationship between the two heirs is forced to develop as the trials go on and the result is a story that perhaps whilst not as tension-filled as it could be, is well told and blends elements of steampunk and our own world perfectly to create a believable alternate reality.