Ruxandra Tarca

Magnificent Devices

Shelley Adina’s Magnificent Devices

I discovered Shelley Adina and her Magnificent Devices steampunk series early in 2019. I had just finished reading the last installment of Philip Reeve’s excellent Mortal Engines series, and I was craving for another steampunk book. Since I knew there were many I had yet to read, I started a very thorough search on Google, reading reviews, blurbs and so on.

When I read the description for the Lady of Devices (the first book in the series), I knew it was the kind of book I would fall in love with, so, although it was available for free, I bought the first four volumes box set. I was sure I would be binging them, and I was right. It’s what I did that entire weekend. Then, it was just natural I kept reading the rest of the Magnificent Devices books. And, without knowing, that entire universe became a close friend I gradually got attached to immensely, and which I keep revisiting once in a while.

The series is comprised of 19 books so far, with the 20th – The Engineer Wore Venetian Red – available for preorder (to be released on May 27th), all set in the same universe. The first books are focused mainly on Lady Claire Trevelyan and her adventures alongside her flock of street urchins, which is the most adorable gang one can read about. The next books follow the members of the flock more closely, as they turn from children to adults, and we get to know them all and fall in love with them – and the hens. The Magnificent Devices universe would not be the same without them. Read the books and you’ll see what I mean.

The series also includes five novellas (Devices Brightly Shining, Carrick House, Selwyn Place, Holly Cottage, and Gwynn Place). I am quite biased towards Holly Cottage, because it is focused on my favorite Magnificent Devices characters, and their story is just so great. I could read hundreds of pages about Maggie and Jake and never get tired. I love how they are equally fierce and humble, and how their actions and personality make them shine.

What I love the most about Shelley Adina’s books is the powerful storytelling. She is one of my favorite authors – and one with whom I clicked instantly – because she knows how to create magic, to take the words and turn them into stardust. Her talent to play with words is what makes her imaginary world feel so visual and real. It’s a world that grabs you and pulls you inside it since the very first page, and that is the result of the way she masters language and narrative.

Another reason I fell in love with the Magnificent Device novels is that I discovered in them my absolute favorite type of steampunk. Excellent use of science, with a personal touch. That universe is equally elegant and classy, rebel and non-conformist, throwing in the right amount of Victorian manners, and yet challenging stereotypes. It is populated with strong-willed characters, who know how to pursue their dreams and learn from their mistakes.

While great in themselves, all these characters achieve their true measure through their relationships with the others. It’s both heartwarming and inspiring to see how Lady Claire and her friends develop such strong bonds, how they slowly become family. All those adventures are not only ways to discover new things and solving problems. They are equally small journeys of self-discovery, of pushing the limits and becoming better persons.

In a way, Lady Claire and her friends have a symbiotic relationship. She saves them from a hopeless fate on the streets of London, offering them a chance to education and a real home. In return, the children unconsciously teach her the real meaning of friendship, and the sense of responsibility. They all grow up learning from one another, and this is what makes their relationship so beautiful.

The Magnificent Devices world is one for all ages and tastes. Delightful and uplifting, it offers fast-paced adventure among airships, devices, and contraptions, plus characters to fall hopelessly in love with.

I'm an indie author, translation industry professional, and former magazine editor, with a passion for steampunk, cyberpunk, and historical fiction. My debut novel Laevium, a steampunk story set in Neo-Victorian London, is available from most major online bookstores.

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