books, reviews

Book Review: The Copper Chevalier – Emily Owen

For George and Douglas Abernathy, life is on the up. Their new android-building business is thriving and they are set to move from their clockmaker’s shop in Soho to a spectacular country mansion.

Then, the bombastic General Brassington forces the brothers to create a mechanical soldier to help quell the Indian Mutiny. The resulting steam-powered, clockwork soldier is promptly shipped to India.

The soldier’s mission is clear, he must subdue the rebellious sepoys and uphold the British Empire’s interests. But after becoming embroiled in the struggle, he’s no longer certain who the true enemy is. When the soldier uncovers a plot that could turn the tide of the conflict and alter the nature of warfare, he must decide where his loyalty lies.

Meanwhile, Molly, the brothers’ botanist teenage sister, faces her own challenges while trying to create her dream garden at the family’s new home…

My thoughts: after their success with The Mechanical Maestro, the Abernathys’ fortunes are on the rise as they move house, and build more automatons. Commissioned by a General to build a mechanical soldier to aid in quashing an uprising in India, they create an extraordinary being – Colonel Copperton. But when he uncovers a plot to use a chemical weapon on the sepoys, his true ingenuity is revealed.

Meanwhile Molly (who’s my favourite character) is designing her garden and bickering with the landscape designer her brother George has hired. But methinks the lady doth protest too much…

This was lots of fun but with a serious point at its heart, what the East India Company and the British Army did in India during the 1800s and 1900s was often cruel and brutal, native peoples were oppressed and killed simply for wanting to be left alone to self govern. The history of the British in India is very sad and shameful, unfortunately not everyone is as good as Copperton and his friends, who have strong moral foundations and won’t harm civilians.

I liked the contrast between the chapters set in India and those back home in Britain – the lighthearted escapades of Molly and the various automatons in the house stopped the book feeling too heavy – as even in the Abernathy household there were some more serious things going on with George that set his siblings at odds with him. This was also sensitively handled and Doctor Molly is a force to be reckoned with.

I was gifted a copy of this book to read and review by the author, who remembered I had been on the blog tour for The Mechanical Maestro, so thank you Emily. The Copper Chevalier will be published in paperback and ebook formats on March 31st, 2022.

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