Cogheart – Peter Bunzl

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Classed as a children’s book I just couldn’t keep away from it. Not only was engrossed by the cover and blurb, the title Cogheart intrigued me and as soon as I started I couldn’t stop reading. The novel is driven by action and lots of it.

The novel follows Lily, a thirteen year old girl who has been placed in a boarding school by her father. When word reaches her that her father has possibly died in a zeppelin crash she is whisked home by her guardian and begins to unravel the events not only into her father’s death, but also, her mother’s death seven years before. Fast paced and with likeable and witty characters the book instantly pulls you into its steam-punk world. Some books I have read recently have failed to encapsulate me within their worlds and create a believable setting; this book has none of these problems. Within the first few paragraphs I believed this novel’s world and the parameters it sets out. A steam-punk setting in London; what’s not to like?

Suspicion is ripe within this novel and it’s clear (at least it was for me), who the culprit is behind the scheming to capture Lily and the mysterious note she received from her dead father by way of Malkin, her mech-fox. For a younger reader however I would hope that they would enjoy the unravelling of hints throughout. I enjoyed the journey to the final standoff and meeting all of the characters on the way because, believe me, they are all brilliant. Miss Rust and Malkin were my favourite mech characters (characters that are entirely mechanical). Bunzl gives all of them a life of their own instead of just being subservient creations. The novel brings across concerns about what it means to be human and what actually makes us so special compared to others (mechs).

Lily was a delight to follow even if at times she seemed too caught up in finding her father to realise how her actions were affecting those around her. Robert, a local clock maker’s son, joins her cause to find her father but only after he is subjected to the same pain that Lily is experiencing which, at times, she fails to notice. It became easy to forget that she is only a thirteen year old girl and when I did remember it did make me question whether that was a decision that a thirteen year old girl would make. She is mature for her age but being mature is not always a valid reason for a thirteen year old to run off and try to find her father’s killer – if I had any qualms about the novel this is it.

The novel concludes in a seemingly happy ending like nearly all children’s book do but, it lines the ending with the realism of what has happened; the memories and actions that all of the characters will have to live with.

I was looking for a standalone novel to fill a hole in my need to “finish” a book and be satisfied completely with the conclusion. I read this novel believing that but, having since found out it will be part of a series I’m glad. I would also be glad to just read this book by itself but I know I’ll buy the next one as Bunzl has created a very unique world, one which I look forward to exploring more. A children’s book? No, this book is for everyone.

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