The first book in a YA steampunk series by Eric Asher.


Jacob, a tinker’s apprentice and sometime thief, has lived his entire life in the mountain city of Ancora, protected by the city walls. These towering barriers keep the Deadlands creatures at bay, but the monsters move higher into the peaks every year. More and more, they breach the defenses of the Lowlands while the Highlands rest easy.

A swarm overruns the walls and wreaks utter devastation on the Lowlands. Charles, the old tinker, suspects the attack may not be natural. With help from Jacob’s closest friend, Alice, and Samuel, one of the city’s elite spider knights, Jacob and Charles will uncover a terrible darkness at the heart of their city.


This is an action packed adventure from the opening paragraph and doesn’t stop even through the end. Asher cleverly creates an original story in a dystopian world while keeping the issues faced by Jacob and Alice relatable to teens. He swiftly weaves the story from the invasion, to empathetic emotions to the new existence, to the cleverness of a young, inventive tinker. Then, he throws in a dash of imperfection with typical teenage mannerisms, deliberate concerns, and a little illegal activity that gets Jacob in trouble later, sending them on a whole new adventure. Asher clearly understands the formula for character creation.

As a very busy person who finds it hard to etch out time to read in daily life, I worried that this 778 page book might prove to be more than I could finish, no matter how engaging the story. Asher proved me wrong, however, as I found myself thinking about Jacob, Alice, the Spider Knights, and all the troubles in the world he built even when I couldn’t read. When I managed to have a moment to pick the book back up, it was as if I never left, so clear are his transitions from scene to scene. I had absolutely no problems getting through this book, even though it took me a lot longer than I wanted it to.

About the 3 stars? Well, this book disappointed me in the ending. It didn’t feel complete. The story just stops as they go to bed, and I can’t help but wonder if this flaw is because the author didn’t want to make the book any longer, decided it was a good place to end, or just ran out of steam. This is the only reason I gave it 3 stars. I would have liked a better conclusion, a finish to this part of the story. It gave me pause as I finished, made me wonder what the true plot of this story is, for as full of adventure and action as it was, and despite how fun a read it was, I couldn’t point out anything specific plot-wise from just this book.

I can’t wait to dig in to the next book and see where the rest of the story takes me, so his idea of not ending the story in book one may have been as successful as he hoped it would be.

An action packed adventure from line one! Steamborn is great! #amreading #ya #Steampunk Click To Tweet

Post Author: Stephanie

Stephanie Ayers writes speculative fiction, where horror and fantasy collide. She is a self proclaimed word whisperer and unicorn living in Ohio disguised as a human. She mothers her children and avoids all things housework and zombies. When she isn't doing any of these things, she can be found browsing thrift stores and flea markets with her husband, attending football games with her son, or binging on TV shows.

Visit her Amazon page to view all her available books.

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