Adina, Shelley: Her Own Devices (Magnificent Devices II) (2013)

Her Own Devices - Shelley Adina
Cover art by Claudia

She was thankful that at least Snouts, Tigg, and the Mopsies followed her lead without coercion. Since she had lost her home in the Arabian Bubble riots and fallen in with this street gang that was no more than a rabble of desperate, hungry children, they had taught her how to survive – and she had taught them how to thrive.

Between lessons in reading and mathematics, they rehearsed new and confounding hands of Cowboy Poker, the current rage they had fabricated in the drawing rooms and gambling halls of London. Those with a bent for chemistry and mechanics assisted her in the assembly of her devices. Food appeared on the table with heartening regularity now, and they all had more than one suit of clothes each. Even Rosie, the hen she had rescued, who ruled the desolate garden behind the cottage with an iron claw, had begun to put on weight.

And to top it all, tomorrow she was to begin employment as assistant to Andrew Malvern, M.Sc., Royal Society of Engineers.

The fascinating thing about steam-punk is that a lot of it has nothing to do with the magic / supernatural / paranormal world. Instead our main characters tend to be engineers. Engineers, who would have thought it? But in reality it is the engineers who make our modern world go around. So too in the world of Lady Claire Trevelyan. Sure, it is an alternative world but I imagine it isn’t too far off in its descriptions of the London of Queen Victoria.

As we saw in Lady of Devices, the main goal of an upper-class woman was to marry and bear her husband an heir. Once you were married your life became your husband’s – a form of slavery where nothing was owned by you – not even your name. Lady Claire did not want marriage and due to her father’s unfortunate investments she did not have to worry about anything but keeping herself alive.

Claire is moving on from the loss of her father and her family’s wealth. She has proven that she is more than just a girl ready for robbing and is now running her own gang on the poorer side of town. Perhaps her gang does not consist of the most frightening people in the world but this gang of children is filled with smart people who make the best of what life they have. As such Claire has proven herself a great addition. Her interests were never really with the trappings of wealth but with the opportunities her wealth gave her to explore and invent. Now her inventive abilities are reaching greater heights as she has to make do with a whole lot less while keeping the other gangs away and keeping the “right people” from knowing what has become of her.

Being a 17-year old girl in this new world of hers is proving to be somewhat of an advantage. She is often underestimated and is able to get away with a great many things a young man her own age would not. Her gang is also often underestimated. Many of them are so young others think of them as inconsequential – to their own detriment. Lord James Sewyn is one such fool.

Lord James is very much set against her employment with his partner Andrew Malvern of the Royal Society of Engineers. He feels it is extremely improper for a young lady to work with such indelicate work as an assistant to an engineer would be. A woman of nobility might work as a governess if need arose. Therefore, Lady Claire’s supposed work as governess to five children is much more appropriate. On the whole Lord James Sewyn finds Claire too independent and brainy for his own taste. If he knew that Claire was in fact the infamous Lady of Devices Lord, James would throw a hissy-fit. As would the rest of the proper set of society (especially her mother).

No fun being a woman in Victorian England, even for the nobility. One middle-class woman we get to know something of and who happens to have immense importance to the discoveries of Claire Trevelyan and Andrew Malvern is Dr. Rosemary Craig. Dr. Craig’s own inventions had threatened the wealth of others to the point that they had her committed to Bedlam and burned what they could find of her papers and inventions. A woman actually risked being sent to Bedlam for the social transgression of being smarter than a man. Too bad for these wankers that Lady Claire happened to have what appeared to be the result of one of Dr. Craig’s inventions.

I like it when stories are told with dialects and voices that could be believable. There is also something about English without contractions that is incredibly appealing. I had fun with Her Own Devices and Shelly Adina’s writing. What we get is a delightfully light and easily read novel with cleverly hidden depths and commentary.


  • File Size: 2757 KB
  • Print Length: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Moonshell Books, Inc. (December 19, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006P962QG

My review of Lady of Devices

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