The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson
Piper survives alone in the house she once shared with her father in Scrap Town #16. The scrap town is built around an area where meteors crash carrying items from other worlds. Piper makes the little money she has by salvaging things from the meteors and using her knack with machines to repair them to working order. Then one day, Piper finds an unconscious girl in a destroyed caravan. She takes her back to her home, where she discovers that the girl, Anna, has lost her memory but also bears the mark of the king of the Dragonfly Territories, putting her under his protection. Anna is not alone though, there is a man following her that she calls “The Wolf” and who desperately wants Anna back. Piper and Anna flee and sneak onto a slow-moving freight train with the help of Piper fooling the alarm systems. They aren’t able to stay hidden on the train for very long, but Anna’s mark gets them a free ride in luxury. Still, the train ride is not without risk and the first hurdle is convincing the young head of security that they can be trusted.
Johnson has created a rich world filled with elements of fantasy, steam-punk and science fiction. Blended together into one, they work to a certain point but much is left unexplained and unexplored. Readers will have immediate questions about the meteors but those are quickly left behind as questions about fantastical beasts arise, and still more questions about the steam punk elements. That said, the book does work and there is hope that more of the world will be understood in upcoming books in the series.
Piper is a wonderful protagonist. I enjoyed reading a book where a girl is the one who can handle machinery better than anyone else. She is also incredibly brave and has a huge heart that is quick to embrace new people. Her personality shines in the book. The pacing of the novel will keep young readers engaged in the story. It is near breakneck speed, rushing headlong into the next part of the adventure.
Rich and delightful, get this book into the hands of young steampunk fans who are looking for a new adventure. Appropriate for ages 10-13.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Delacorte Books for Young Readers.