Weird and subversive.
The style of this reminded me a bit of the things I’ve liked from Catherine Valente.
Teenage Jackson lives at an orphanage. He’s always known he’s not quite like the other boys. He has to exert all his willpower, sometimes, not to… shift… or to do terrible things. Luckily, Sister Jerome Grace seems to have a warm spot in her heart for him, and although older orphans like Jackson don’t often have good prospects, she helps find him a fosterage. It’s not a family, though – it’s a job at Macquarie’s, which seems to be some kind of vaudeville/burlesque establishment, run by the domineering Cressida.
Macquarie’s is also a place where weirdness and magic are acknowledged, and Jackson is told he’ll no longer have to hide his true nature. But Jackson isn’t quite sure about a lot of things. One thing he knows is that he’s dangerously intrigued by the girl Mae, who turns out to be an employee of the rival establishment – one that, although nearby, is in another gang’s territory. But gang rivalries may turn out to be the least of his worries… considering what lurks beneath and beyond…
I liked how the thread of the story kept sliding into the vicinity of YA adventure – and then sliding right out of that flirtation into much stranger and more ethically challenging territory. Bits of steampunk, Lovecraft and mythology are brewed in, but the resulting potion is wholly its own thing.
Many thanks to LibraryThing and Apex for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are unaffected by the source of the book.