This lively and thought-provoking sequel to 2007’s Mainspring expands Lake’s alternate 19th-century world of baroque politics and gothic clockwork. Paolina Barthes is a teenage scientific prodigy born in a small Portuguese fishing village at the base of the massive equatorial gear-wall. Determined to learn from English engineering “wizards” and understand the work of the great gears and wheels that move the universe, Paolina creates a homebrew chronometer, or “gleam,” and sets off toward London. When she discovers the gleam has astonishing magical properties that only she can evoke, she becomes a target of various political and philosophical factions. Her efforts to figure out what the gleam can do while evading capture and persevering on her quest recall Lyra and the alethiometer from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, but Paolina’s sharp engineer’s mind puts a very different spin on her journey. Lake effectively anneals steampunk with geo-mechanical magic in an allegorical matrix of empire building and Victorian natural science. Publishers Weekly

Escapement will be released in June of this year. The paperback of Mainspring is conveniently coming out tomorrow.