The Whitechapel Gambit by Marcin Wrona
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.
Summary: When the Haversham sun grinds to a halt before dawn, Daniel (or David) Squeak expects that he and his fellow sunwell workers are in for an awful day. What he doesn't expect is that a furious foreman will be the very least of his problems. One gear turns another, and Squeak finds himself injured, sacked from the only work he's ever known, and afraid for his very life.
The mysterious Sir Nicholas offers Squeak a way out of his predicament, but this knight is no saint. As Sir Nicholas slides around the pawns and bishops of a decades-old plot, it's Squeak who finds himself in motion: from sunwell to manor, from soot-stained Haversham to wealthy Rawlish, and even to the deadly jungles of the surface.
Workhouse lads are resourceful. Everybody knows that. But the bloody alleys of Haversham are not nearly as dangerous as the glittering avenues of King's Court.
Review: A tale of murder, mystery, and intrigue set in an incredible steampunk setting.
I was quite amazed when I learned that Squeak lived on the inside of earth. The people there don’t seem to live too far below the surface, but it’s still incredible that they managed to have whole cities and factories. There were even mushroom forests and lizards that pulled carriages (although they had their tails cut off, which made me sad). It never does really explain why people went to live underground nor did I learn much about the surface, its people, and its culture. I would love to know the mechanics of living under the surface.
There certainly is a lot of intrigue in this book. Sometimes the intrigue can get a bit much and I did get a little confused at times. Squeak gets rescued by Sir Nicholas and gets caught up in a plot that spans decades. Part of the book focuses on Squeak as a child and then it suddenly jumps to Sir Daniel (Squeak as an adult) and his quest to free his friend. Though it kept switching back and forth, with such a large gap of time I found myself to be missing crucial information (although a lot got explained later). I would have liked some in-between.
Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy steampunk.