The Lady Astronomer is a YA steampunk novel by the Irish author Katy O’Dowd. This is her first novel published in the US. I was originally attracted to the novel because of the title and the cover art. I love the idea of a novel centered on a smart strong woman who is an astronomer. The cover art has an interesting vibe to it with a lemur and a woman in a library surrounded by books. I was able to get the book through the Kindle library.
I’ve only read about ¼ of the book, so I don’ t have much to say in the way of a review. The story started in Bath and then the characters moved to Slough to be near the King, which is where the majority of the story will take place. There are three main characters the siblings H, Freddie, Al, and Lucretia. Lucretia is the lady astronomer and the brains of the H siblings. Freddie is the overly ambitious brother, who orchestrated the King’s request for their move to Slough to create the largest telescope. Al is the more subdued brother that creates the “steampunk” creations.
It feels like there are a lot of characters. The animals are animistic, they don’t talk but they demonstrate reactions. Leibniz, the lemur, and Orion, the owl, are the two main animals that function as a part of the cast. Plus, there are wind-up animals created by Al to be an orchestra. And once they arrive in Slough there is a metal pig called Mr. Trotters that takes them in. These creations and the way O’Dowd weaves them into the story sticks out in my mind. For good or bad I haven’t decided.
The number of characters makes the story very difficult to enjoy. I haven’t spent a lot time getting to know the characters, which for me is important in the beginning because I generally will only stay with a book if I like the character(s). I also wish there was a bit more description about the location, especially since I’m not familiar with those parts of England.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress.