Publishing Date: August 2017
Publishers Description: In the rugged landscape of eastern Oregon, a young scientist named June uncovers an exquisite artifact—a three-hundred-year-old mechanical doll whose existence seems to validate her obsession with a harrowing story she was told by her grandfather many years earlier. The mechanical doll, June believes, is proof of a living race of automatons that walk undetected among us to this day. Ingeniously hidden inside the ancient doll is a lost message, addressed to the court of Peter the Great, czar of Russia.
Review: Ah June, where is thy sting? Much of this novel is a kind of see-saw through time; World War 1, the era of Catherine the Great, 3,000 B.C. China and on to the present. Very interesting historical fiction with animated robots infused into the story line. Then onto the present and, well June. You just can’t connect with June for a variety of reasons. She lacks depth in that she never develops outside of her persona as a doll fixer/post-doc something/curious childhood to adult…thing. She is like a blank canvas that was never filled. She rants and says “Fuck” a few times and curls into fetal positions in tense situations but can kill a robot with superhuman strength. Although there is a ton of movement in this novel, June just seems to be along for the ride.
Peter and his world of anima-infused ancient robots was really interesting. Coupled with a great story line, constant movement and Peter’s ability to grow (albeit slowly) with said movement, made for a great read. His life leading up to the present was riveting in that the story told within pinnacle moments of history held you captivated. His constant internal struggle implementing the “Word” drives this novels world building. In a way, he is much like Frankenstein. While June could have been built better and not just as some piece of fluff expediting the scenes, the rest of the players are riveting as they abide through time recounting their lives.