David Morese knows how to write a good story. His plots and pacing are always excellent, carrying you smoothly from beginning to end without you ever being quite sure where he’s going to take you next. This novel, though very enjoyable, didn’t involve me emotionally. It’s an entertaining light fantasy with charming characters, told from the viewpoint of an omniscient narrator, and it has no sex and little violence, making it suitable for the whole family.
Although the novel stands alone, the world is the same one used in the Warden Threat and the Warden War. Trixie and Kwestor are the main characters this time, with Prince Donald making an appearance near the end. Mo, the android dog also has an important role. Trixie is a gutsy young lady and an endearing character, and Kwestor is … unique. I really like his dry observations on the nature of humankind.
The antagonist in the story is a sly creepy character who aims to find riches and a place for himself by manipulating the head of one of the Groves – a kind of borough within a Kingdom – and encouraging him in his bid to challenge the King’s power. He kidnaps a scientist who found some very unusual and baffling machines that look like mechanical crabs and are capable of great destruction when directed by the wrong sort of person. Trixie, escorted by Kwestor, is carrying a message from Prince Donald to the scientist. She finds him gone and his friends don’t know where he is or what has happened. So begins their quest to unravel the mystery. At the same time, mechanical giant bugs are wrecking havoc in the town, and though there seems no logical reason for it, Kwestor wonders if the events are related.
The previous books in this series are sometimes listed as science fiction, but I consider them more fantasy, because the science fiction aspect of the world is hidden from most of the characters, and it rarely impinges on the story. The world we are presented with is definitely a medieval society. Although this book has some similarities with steampunk in so far as it has a spunky girl heroine and some wonderful machines, it isn’t truly steampunk, because books of that genre are set in our world in an alternate Victorian era where steam power and clockwork have become highly refined. Like much independently published fiction, this book crosses genre boundaries and, I think, is more interesting because of it.