I love reading everything from fantasy to historical romances. On a constant quest for more books to read.
This book takes place in a Victorian era world where steamships soar the skies over London, and where a young woman called Evvie the sparrow works for Ma Pether (think like a female Fagin).
Stealing running,confidence games and keeping out from the eyes of the law are the essentials in her profession even if there are hints that once her Life once was very different.But Evvie prefers not to think too much about her past and instead focus on the present wich is hard enough.
One day while she is working a con she is interrupted by a man called Holmfort who tempts her with the possibility of advancement in life and a pension after she has completed an important task for him,a task for wich he believes she has an aptitude.
She agrees to this even if she and we the reader both know that he has ulterior motives.
So Evvie finds herself shipped off to the strict boarding school Britannia run by stern Ms Cairngrim aptly nicknamed Miss Grim by her students.
The Britannia School is used to train girls in the service of the empire but Evvie soon figures out that its mostly used to hide away the illegitimate daughters of the rich,noble and powerful. Its pupils are taught several subjects like deportment,languages,the art of disguise and Bartitsu.
In this new enviroment can Evvie figure out the dark agenda of Holmforth and her connection to Etheric sciences
The first thing you need to know about Evvie is that she is DEVIOUS and CUNNING. But being forced to grow up in the conditions she had its not bad qualities to have.
Another character describes her perfectly
"With *spoiler hidden* you are an respectable young lady.
Others see an innocent or a rogue..
"And what do you see?" Evvie raised her chin"
"An artist he said,and managed still clinging on to the window with one hand,a remarkably elegant bow.
But she has a good heart so I liked her. Shes a strong character but shes certainly not a Mary Sue or made of stone
When it comes to the setting I also liked (if liking is the right word) that the author didnt shy away from the seedier and not so pretty parts of the Victorian era. There is racial prejudice and chauvinism galore. Not to mention poverty and other dickensian awful going ons.
Britannia school get ready for Evvie
As I was reading Shanghai Sparrow I kept waiting for romance to happen. There were several likely candidates for the role but then I realized just like this story does perfectly fine without inserting a romance so does Evvie. She has too many other things to think about to complicate it with getting a love interest.
There were actually several times when I though to myself. Give the poor girl a break. Hasnt she been through enough? And isnt that what makes a book great when you start to care about their characters and what will become of them
That said I really liked Liu :) He both admires and accepts her for what she is.
This is a book full of what I would like to call in lack of a better word- Girl power.
Evvie acquires a female friend at Britannia who proves to be quite resourceful and loyal,and other female character shows that they are far from the mindless idiots some men seems to think they are.
Holmforth as the primary antagonist was really someone you could dislike and hope Evvie would escape from, but at the same time you start understand where he was coming from and makes him something more than a cardboard antagonist.
His fate at the end of the book was really sad,and despite being the villain I think it was a bit harsh.Maybe it will make him learn some lessons though
If this book has any weakness its that I felt the reasons for the animosity against the Folk was a bit vague as they dont really appear in the book wich causes the threat they are supposedly posing be a bit hard to Believe as its based on what a supporting character states and some powerhungry/paranoid officials beliefs.
The chapters with the folk Empress could have been cut out for all the impact they had on the story.
The prologue I am not so sure I liked because of the implications when it comes to the future of Evvie. Its not an unhappy ending and I even understand how it came about and that it fits the theme of female empowerment running through the book.
But I cant really believe thats how her story will end.
Will there be no more adventures for Eveline Duchen?! I hope Gaie Sebold does write more. *hints*