Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors by H.L. Burke

Writing: 5/5       Entertainment: 5/5       Characters: 5/5       World Building: 5/5

Nyssa Glass CoverNyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors is such a breath of fresh air. While most of the books I’ve read this year have been good, nothing’s hooked me in recent memory the way Burke’s tale did. I’m so sad I let it sit on my kindle for as long as I did. Its charming blend of whimsy, mystery, danger and adventure makes me nostalgic for the books and movies I would devour as a kid, but the darker tone makes it a wonderful YA adventure.

Nyssa Glass thought she had left her life of thievery behind, but when a mysterious man darkens the doorway of the electrician’s shop where she works, she’s forced to call on her old habits or risk a life of prison. With all the dangers she must face within the Dalhart estate, that almost might be preferable.

Burke makes steampunk come alike in a way I haven’t seen in many other places ( Kate L. Mary’s Liberation being one exception). I’ve tried to throw myself into the genre for years, but as someone who prefers more character-driven stories, its usual world-driven story-telling can be a bit slow and dry for my taste. It’s a brilliant genre, for sure, but I usually have trouble clicking with it. Burke does a wonderful job balancing her world with the more human elements of the story, blending them together to create a fun, compelling narrative that’s impossible to put down.

The machines and gadgets are a lot of fun. The blend of old-timey and modern tech is creative, unique, and lends itself to interesting situations, visuals, and plot points that kept me reading to see what Nyssa would find in addition to wanting to know what would happen to her.

Burke’s writing is spot on. Just like the story itself, she knows how to balance the world’s technical lingo with description and clever, flowing dialogue so that every scene is easy to picture and follow, but the technological elements are just far fetched enough to inspire a bit of awe and wonder in the reader.

As a lead, Nyssa’s okay. She’s cleaver, brave, and likable enough, but what really sets her apart is how, as her school puts it, “Mechanically Minded,” she is. She’s great with machines of all sorts and quick thinking, which is encouraging to see, especially in a book aimed at teen girls, who are usually discouraged from such interests.

Overall, Nyssa Glass is a fun read for anyone who enjoys YA, steampunk, fantasy, sci-fi, or is just looking for an enjoyable lighthearted read. Head over to Amazon and give it a look. The first book is free, so there’s nothing to loose but a few hours getting swept away in what’s sure to be a wonderful series.

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