Reasons for Inclusion: Eyelet has epilepsy, Ulrick has an unspecified skin pigment disorder (mostly appearing like albinism but with dark patches as well). Minor characters include a mute woman and a man without arms.
Publisher’s Summary: One determined girl. One resourceful boy. One miracle machine that could destroy everything.
After an unexplained flash shatters her world, seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth sets out to find the Illuminator, her father’s prized invention. With it, she hopes to cure herself of her debilitating seizures before Professor Smrt—her father’s arch nemesis—discovers her secret and locks her away in an asylum.
Pursued by Smrt, Eyelet locates the Illuminator only to see it whisked away. She follows the thief into the world of the unknown, compelled not only by her quest but by the allure of the stranger—Urlick Babbit—who harbors secrets of his own.
Together, they endure deadly Vapours and criminal-infested woods in pursuit of the same prize, only to discover the miracle machine they hoped would solve their problems may in fact be their biggest problem of all.
How many years had I believed I would never be loved, never accepted, because I was different? And now, our differences have brought us together.
Lumiere is a thrilling start to a trilogy, introducing vibrant characters in a steampunk world cursed to eternal darkness, yet still glimmering with hints of magic.
Eyelet lives in fear that the Academy she attends will discover her seizures and send her to an asylum. Her father, a great inventor, disappeared before finishing the machine that he built to “fix” her. When a devious professor accuses her family of witchcraft, Eyelet flees, and meets Ulrick, an at first irritating young man who might be able to help her.
The technology is fascinating. There’s the X-ray machine Eyelet is hunting, intelligent clockwork ravens, an intelligent flying bicycle, a communication system using metal insects, and even a breakfast-serving contraption reminiscent of Wallace and Gromit.
Urlick’s house is full of mystery. And he’s not explaining any of it to Eyelet. The two characters quickly fall into an amusing romantic tension, annoyed and intrigued by each other. Eyelet just wants Ulrick to be a little more open, to tell her what’s going on, and he can’t understand why she won’t just stay put and follow directions, because if she goes outside, the vicious shapeshifting Vapours will get her. Or his wicked father, a madman who experiments on babies.
Eyelet, ever-curious, keeps exploring despite the danger, meeting the not-so-creepy inhabitants of the house and discovering Ulrick’s secret projects.
And then the Brigsmen catch up with them, and the two go on the run, to hunt down their parents’ projects and figure out why the world went dark so many years ago.
The narration trades off between Eyelet and Urlick, so you understand both of their motivations, and why they’re not getting along. The Vapours were fantastically creepy and Professor Smrt made for a fun wicked villain. I enjoyed all the weirdness of Ulrick’s house, although I felt that the tension with Eyelet was a little contrived. The tech sometimes bordered on absurd (bug Twitter? AI birds?) but most of it was amazing. I can’t say a lot more because of spoilers, but I liked that the characters’ “defects” aren’t “fixed,” and the revelation of why they can’t be.
I got a little bored around the third quarter of the book, but the last part was exciting enough to be worth the wait. And it ended in such a perfect cliffhanger! I’ll be looking out for the next book.