The first book in the Zelda Pryce series.
Publication year: 2012
Zelda Pryce is a geomatrix and a security consultant. She uses arcane science to create devices which looks like magic to the untrained people. As a security consultant it’s her job to test the security of places; essentially she’s hired to break into places and steal things (which she then gives back of course). She’s just graduated from her arcane science school and started her career. Her first job is to break in to the Smithsonian and take the Nicomachean whistle. She has built anti-gravity wings with allows her to fly and Theodore Key which opens any door. With them, all goes well and soon Zelda gets another job, to break into the British Museum and take out Chatton’s Anti-Razor. Zelda is thrilled and accepts the offer.
However, during the job, everything starts to go wrong. For one thing, another person is burglaring the Museum at the same time. Clive Caspian isn’t a security consultant but a real thief and Zelda finds that out a bit too late. They escape together from the local police in Clive’s old Skoda but a French secret agent catches them and tells them that they’ve been used. Someone has conned Zelda and Clive into robbing the Museum for real. Zelda is furious and wants to catch the person responsible.
In a book geared toward the romance readers, Zelda and Clive would be chasing the con artist around the world with sexual tension rising. But in this book (yay!) Zelda teams up with the French agent Yasmin Demir. Yasmin is pretty much a lone agent but she adjusts well to working with Zelda and I enjoyed their team-up.
Zelda is pretty young but she’s very smart and determined. She also doesn’t want to use her abilities for crime, which she could do. She has a younger sister Roxanne and she worries about her sister’s future. They talk on the phone often, even when Zelda is on the job.
Yasmin is a more reserved person. She’s had a hard time in her job and I think she’s often frustrated in it. In contrast, Clive is the suave and charming thief. But he isn’t interested in taking any unnecessary risks. He also uses arcane science devices to help him in his crimes and that’s one reason why Zelda is attracted to him.
The world feels very much like our own (with cell phones and the internet) but with some strange objects which are really fun. Those that were introduced early included Occam’s Razor which is an actual and very dangerous razor, Hypatia’s Wings which allows the person using them fly, and Faraday Cloak which makes the wearer invisible to electronic devices.
The pace is quick and takes Zelda and her friends to various places around the world, which was fun, too. However, there’s not much character development. While the plot isn’t unique by any means (which book has a unique plot??), it’s written in a fun way and I enjoyed the book a lot.
This was part of the Steampunk bundle but it doesn’t actually have any steam powered items. I’d rather call it alternate world/history. While the items might feel like fantasy, Zelda is adamant that they are scientific and not magic at all.