Steampunk alternative reality in Moonlocket is a thrilling version of history [Review]

Steampunk alternative reality in Moonlocket is a thrilling version of history [Review]

Continuing the story of intrigue started in Cogheart, find out how the first human with a mechanical clockwork heart deals with a notorious escaped criminal

by Peter Bunzl
Published by Usborne
ISBN 978 1 4749 1501 4

Peter Bunzl’s debut novel Cogheart was one of last year’s best books. With so many copy-cat titles and “new” novels milking “old” themes in the YA field, anyone who comes up with an original idea is to be applauded. Bunzl’s unique world-building and thrilling storytelling produced a wildly imaginative read, and for once, there was much room at the end of the book for the story to continue without covering old ground.

Bunzl’s semi-steampunk, Zeppelin-skyed world is an alternative take on the final decades of the reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria. Advanced clockwork is the technology of the day, and it has brought about massive changes to the social order.

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Professor John Hartman is a respected inventor of clockwork robots that, to all purposes, function almost like humans. There is just one thing. They have to be wound up at night. But this could soon change because Hartman has been working on a “cogheart”, an artificial heart that will pump away forever. At the end of Bunzl’s first book, following an accident, Hartman’s teenage daughter Lily is fitted with a cogheart.

Moonlocket starts a few months later. London is getting ready to celebrate the queen Diamond Jubilee, but preparations are interrupted by sensational news.

The notorious criminal Jack Door, England’s most-wanted man, has escaped from prison. His agenda is to track down the famous Blood Moon Diamond, which he’d stolen from the Queen, and which his accomplice wife had hidden. But Artemesia Door died without telling her husband where she had put the diamond. But that’s just the start of his problems.

Lily and her friend Robert Townsend met in the last book; now Robert lives with Lily and her father.

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It isn’t long before Robert and Lily cross paths with the infamous Jack, who knows a secret about Robert of which the boy is totally unaware.

Moonlocket is a clever continuation of the story set up in its predecessor, and although it’s a similar mix of steampunk, adventure and mystery, it feels utterly fresh. The author has created such an original world, it gives him a lot of room to manoeuvre his plot and to bring in new elements. Old characters return, and new ones make their mark. Even the Queen makes an appearance.

Bunzl has mastered the whip-smart plot, and his visual writing style serves his setting, characters and story well. This is a worthy sequel that will attract new fans, and very much satisfy the old.

John Millen can be contacted on

Edited by Karly Cox

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Steampunk alternative reality is a thrilling version of history


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