Summary: Plagued by mental fits that could cause her to be committed, Eyelet finds herself all alone after her father dies the Night of the Great Illumination and her mother is executed for being deemed a valkyrie. Before his death, Eyelet’s father was working on a machine to cure her affliction that he called the Illuminator, and Eyelet’s quest to find it causes her introduction to Urlick, a young man afflicted with his own demons. Together, Eyelet and Urlick embark on a journey to find her father’s journals and make the machine work in a quest for healing, but the true power of the machine proves to be darker than they could have ever imagined.
Number of Pages: 335
Age Range: 13-15
Review: An epic steampunk adventure, Lumière by Jacqueline Garlick is the story of Eyelet, an eighteen year-old girl who has spent ten years living in a world where the sun doesn’t shine anymore. Because of the Night of the Great Illumination, cloud cover is pervasive, forcing residents of the Commonwealth to living in often foggy conditions, terrorized by the vapour that has the ability to alter a person’s DNA.
Eyelet is an outsider who lives in fear that someone will find out about her fits and send her away. Since she was a little girl her hope has been being cured by her father’s Illumination machine, but when he dies before he can cure her, Eyelet seeks the machine out herself.
Urlick also knows what is like to be an outsider. Stuck in the birth canal during his birth, his prolonged entrance into the world kills his mother and earns his father’s disdain. On top of that Urlick is feared as a monster at times thanks to his red eyes, albino-like appearance and port-wine stains on his skin.
Both Eyelet and Urlick are spirited characters, sensitive to the needs of others because of their personal afflictions. When Eyelet goes after her father’s Illuminator machine and finds Urlick packing it into the back of his carriage, she insists on accompanying him whether he likes it or not. But what begins as an antagonistic relationship soon turns into respect, friendship and then love. While the machine and the desire for healing initially brings them together, they quickly realise how much they have in common.
I have a lot of favourites in this book: Bertie the cycle, loyal Iris, and all of Urlick’s neat, multi-purpose inventions. I was intrigued by the family secrets, and the highly mechanised world Eyelet and Urlick live in, as well as the Illuminator’s dark downside. Even though Eyelet’s father created the machine to cure Eyelet, the realisation that it actually made her worse must have been heart-breaking. What I liked best about Lumière though was that it was just a great story, action-packed and entertaining.
The only problem I had with it was when Eyelet and Urlick are caught in her father’s study by Smrt, the bad guy, and in the next chapter they have suddenly escaped his clutches without an explanation of how they did so. I actually flipped back a few pages and checked the chapter numbering to make sure I hadn’t missed a chapter, thinking my copy may have been defective. But it wasn’t. The explanation does come in spurts, but Garlick definitely has the writing chops to have fleshed it out as a chapter in itself.
As a first young adult book, it’s a good start, and I look forward to seeing where Garlick takes the series.
Addendum: Turns out that my e-copy of Lumière was in fact missing an essential scene. And as I predicted, Garlick had the considerable skill to write her characters out of their desperate situation while revealing several key plot points. I have to admit that after I read the missing section, the story made a lot more sense, although when I read it yesterday I was just willing to give Garlick the benefit of the doubt because some of the aspects revealed in the scene I had figured out on my own. Now that I know it is a complete and vibrant story though, I will be adjusting my rating on Goodreads. Thanks for sending me the missing section Jacqueline!
The one he invented solely for me. To try and put an end to this madness that plagues me. To save me from a life locked up in an asylum.
The one he sold.
Before he bothered to fix me.
Then died – and left me here.
To fight this demon – all alone.
The smoke in my mind turns from grey to black, the world around me erasing…slowly…
I wish you’d never invented it.
Never sought a solution –
Never let me believe there was hope…
I wish I’d never been born defective –
I wish I’d never been born at all…
I wish I could reverse everything –
Everything, that’s happened…” – Eyelet from Lumière by Jaqueline Garlick
“He strokes my hair and kisses the top of my head, and I feel as though a weight has been lifted off my heart – an anchor I’ve carried since birth. I cling to him, letting the years of heartache melt away, his hands stroking my back. How many years had I believed I would never be loved, never accepted, all because I was different? And now, our differences have brought us together.” – Eyelet from Lumière by Jacqueline Garlick
Lumière by Jacqueline Garlick is published by Amazemo Books, (2013).