I have heard great things about this book and was excited to read it. I received this book as an advanced reading copy through the Amazon Vine Program. It was a wonderful book and I really enjoyed it.
Natalie Minks loves working on all things mechanical. She has an awesome bike that she built with her dad, but cannot ride. When a company of traveling medicine men shows up in town she thinks something is not right with them. When the lead Dr. of the group, Jake Limberleg, makes one of Natalie's automaton run without a key to wind it, Natalie's suspicions increase. As both Natalie's brother and mother seek help from Dr. Limberleg Natalie gets an ever increasing feeling of unease. Natalie ends up navigating the complicated maze of tents in the medicine show in an effort to find the truth. As she searches, Natalie finds out that the very Devil himself might be involved and that she may be the only one that can stop him...now if only she could ride her awesome bike...
This was an excellent book. The characters are well-developed and interesting; the discussions around mechanics are also intriguing. Milford does an excellent job of building suspense and mystery and really keeping the plot moving. This is a wonderful portrait of 1914 and visits many old American ideas. The explanation behind the various types of "medicine" employed by the traveling medicine show was wonderful and teaches an interesting history of the strange paths medicine has taken. This was just an excellent story, and Milford writes it in the style of a truly excellent story-teller.
The story has a bit of humor here and there and I loved the idea of one person in town being a storykeeper. The strengths of this story are the wonderful characterizations and the wonderful technical explanations behind medicine and machinery. I also loved the odd things included; like the fact that every wagon at the crossroads looses its right front wheel, then mysteriously they find a building in the ghost town with front wheels hanging on the walls.
The drawings in the ARC weren't all final yet, but the sketches that were included were well done and really evoke the feeling of the story. As far as I know this is a single book and not part of a series. The book would be appropriate for younger children, although there are some parts with demons and the Devil that get kind of scary.
Natalie is a great role model for young adults and the cast of crazy characters are bound to keep people of all ages interested. Milford is an author that I will definitely be keeping tabs on in the future.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Debut Author Challenge
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge