Eleanor Banneker and Ben Grimm were inseparable as children and swore to remain best friends. This becomes difficult when Ellie’s wicked stepmother, Olivia, throws out Ben and his mother (the maid) out of the house with no warning. With Ellie’s birth mother dead and her father seemingly under the spell of the new woman, Ellie is forced into a life of servitude. After a twist of fate, Ben and Ellie run into each other at the theater where Ben works. He sees that Ellie is in distress and stops to speak with her. It becomes very clear that since their parting Ellie’s life has taken a step back. Instead of being the heiress to a large fortune, she is a maid to her stepmother and stepsister. Plus, no one seems to recognize her as Miss Eleanor Banneker, so going to the authorities is out. Ben and Ellie find a way to meet up at the Philadelphia World’s Fair and are accosted by a mysterious woman who gives Ellie a way to break the spell that she and her father are under. It appears that Olivia has concocted a way to make it so no one recognizes Ellie, save for Ben. Ben agrees to help Ellie, but also feels that they mysterious woman must be a charlatan. As Ellie works to break the spell, Ben works to finish an invention he calls the motorcar. They have until midnight on New Year’s Eve to break the curse and set Ellie free.
I’m a sucker for happy endings, and A Curse of Ash and Iron filled me with the warm fuzzies of a young adult novel. Add in the fact there are many a Steampunk element, Philadelphia High Society in the late 1800’s and a good old fashioned curse and I was drawn to this book like moths to one of those weird bug zapper lights. Author Christine Norris crafts a story that leaves the reader in suspense, but also ever hopeful for an ending where our Cinderella-like character gets her moment in the sun. This is even more possible with the introduction of randomly given gold slippers and Hamilton Scott, the debonair high society man that all the girls of the season want to keep for themselves. This book contains all of my reading weaknesses, including the victimized girl who takes back her life, early steam powered machinery and High Society dresses and manners.
A Curse of Ash and Iron is available now from Curiosity Quills Press.