Disclaimer: I received a free, electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
SPOILER ALERT: While this review does not contain major spoilers for The Earl and the Artificer, it does contain spoilers for The Earl of Brass, the first novel in the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series (you can read my review of The Earl of Brass HERE).
The Earl and the Artificer by Kara Jorgensen follows Eilian and Hadley Sorrell to Brasshurst Hall (Eilian’s family home) in Folkesbury following their marriage. Both characters are struggling with their newfound roles as Lord and Lady Dorset. Eilian fears that he will never live up to his noble role, nor be a proper husband for Hadley, and Hadley is concerned that she will never succeed as a proper society lady and always be viewed as an opportunistic upstart.
Jorgensen’s character development with Eilian and Hadley is logical and all-too-relatable. Their fears and concerns tap into the deeper fears of rejection and desire for acceptance that all humans feel in one realm or another. Yet, despite their insecurities and a few incompatibilities, they manage to stay supportive of and caring toward one another. Their relationship is not perfect, but through their dedication and devotion, it remains a relationship the reader will admire.
While at Brasshurst Hall, Eilian and Hadley do their best to fit in with the wider genteel society. Through these efforts, the reader is introduced to a new cast of characters. Most notably, Jorgensen provides us with a new antagonist, Randall Nash (Eilian’s second cousin) and a few new friends in Nadir Talbot (a romance author) and his cousin, Mrs. Rhodes.
What I liked most about these secondary characters is that they are exceedingly complex. Jorgensen explores their personalities from various perspectives, and the reader can find relatable and despicable qualities in each one. Personally, Nadir was my favorite. Through his character, Jorgensen commented on several social themes (including gender, race, and imperialism), and it delighted my inner sociologist.
Overall, the plot of the novel moved at a steady pace, though I did not find it quite as captivating as the story lines of The Earl of Brass and The Winter Garden. To me, the other novels had higher stakes and more action throughout, which made them more gripping. However, The Earl and the Artificer has a nice elevation to it. The drama, and the danger, grows as the novel progresses, and moments that seemed insignificant before become key parts of the plot toward the end. While I saw some of the twists coming, there were a few that surprised and delighted me.
In sum, The Earl and the Artificer is a fitting addition to the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. Fans of Eilian and Hadley will enjoy watching their characters and relationship grow. Fans of the steampunk genre will be entranced by the ominous Brasshurst Hall, eccentric Nadir Talbot, and dangerous turn of events. Highly recommend for anyone with a love of steampunk, historical fiction, and mystery novels.
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