The Lady Astronomer by Katy O’Dowd

The Lady Astronomer

Katy O’Dowd

Copyright: 2012

Untold Press

Genre: YA Steampunk


Last year I received a Kindle for my birthday from my boyfriend and once I got Amazon Prime I decided to check out the lending library. I was really attracted to this book for two reasons the title and the cover. The title “Lady Astronomer” made me curious to learn about the possible character and plot. The cover has classic steampunk imagery with a young woman wearing a mono-scope reading astronomy documents in a room filled with books and experimental equipment.


Overall, the story was an easy read, great for younger readers and those looking for something not deep or complicated. The plot is simple though it takes a bit for it to get off the ground, which had me reviewing the plot. The first part of the story is about the siblings Freddie, Al, and Lucretia and their life together with their animals and steampunk creations in Bath. Then Freddie convinces the King that he should build him the largest telescope in the world and the characters move to Slough to be near the King. Once there a new set of challenges and characters await the family including romance for Lucretia and Freddie. When plans for the telescope fall behind schedule the King requires that Lucretia remains at the castle with him. Naive Lucretia falls into the trap of Lady K and Mr. E and ends up arrested for treason.


The story centers on Lucretia, The Lady Astronomer. It took me a few minutes after finishing the story, to realize the character had evolved. In the beginning Lucretia feels she is surrounded by silly, women. These are honest women but they are not of status or intelligence; and while Lucretia isn’t a social climber, she doesn’t appreciate the value of their guilelessness. She goes off to the castle and is taken in by the false demonstrations of friendship of Lady K and Mr. E which leads to her downfall and the death of her beloved owl Orion. After she is cleared by the efforts of Princess 12 a.k.a Kitty, she is able to see and appreciate the rural people from Slough and Bath. On her return home she accepts the friendship of Mrs. P a woman whom she originally mocked for her simple nature. Lucretia’s growth wasn’t immediately noticeable because it isn’t strung together well. I expect my characters to have an internal struggle that results in an epiphany. There isn’t a struggle or an epiphany and it’s this above all else that takes makes me dislike this story.


I found the story to be very childish and not developed enough for a YA audience. I have become accustomed to YA novels that deal with real hard subjects in a mature dialogue.  The overabundance of Steampunk animal characters detracted from my ability to take the story seriously.  I felt the Kings actions were a bit over the top and read more like an adult character written for a young child. The scenes where Lucretia was locked in the dungeon lacked grit and emotion. This for me was a huge problem, this was the climax of the story what everything was building to, but it didn’t read that way.  The scenes lacked heart and tension.


There wasn’t one steampunk element that I liked more than another. The main character, Lucretia has a mono-scope, while not an influential part of the story is important. It is the mono-scope that helps the Princess 12 a.k.a Kitty prove that Lucretia was falsely accused of treason by Lady K and Mr. E. The mono-scope is also an important part of Lucretia identity, provides a shield from the world, and serves as an ocular device. There are a number of steampunk elements of them the most creative are the clockwork animals. The younger brother Al creates the animal orchestra and Orion 2. Plus, there is Mr. Trotters the steam pig that befriends the family in Slough. And there is a clockwork crocodile that resides in the moat outside the castle. For the most part these animals don’t have a direct effect on the plot but serve as entertainment.






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