CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS
I picked up Cogling in the wake of finishing Treasure Darkly by the same author, Jordan Elizabeth, anxious to see what else she had to offer. I was not disappointed.
When fifteen-year-old Edna Mather tears an expensive and unfamiliar pocket watch off her little brother’s neck, he crumbles into a pile of cogs right before her eyes. Horrified, Edna flees for help, but encounters Ike, a thief who attempts to steal the watch before he realizes what it is: a device to power Coglings—clockwork changelings left in place of stolen children who have been forced to work in factories.
Desperate to rescue her brother, Edna sets off across the kingdom to the hags’ swamp, with Ike in tow. There, they learn Coglings are also replacing nobility so the hags can stage a rebellion and rule over humanity. Edna and Ike must stop the revolt, but the populace believes hags are helpful godmothers and healers. No one wants to believe a lowly servant and a thief, especially when Ike has secrets that label them both as traitors.
Together, Edna and Ike must make the kingdom trust them or stop the hags themselves, even if Ike is forced to embrace his dark heritage and Edna must surrender her family.
Cliffnotes Version: Edna teams up with a thief, a witch, a princess, and a rebel, to save her brother when he’s kidnapped and replaced with a cogling, a creature created by hags (witches) to steal the dreams of children.
From the premise alone I was intrigued: Magic mixed with Victorian values mixed with steam-powered design, mixed with a heavy focus of family. How could I turn away?
We’re immediately dropped into this world of uneven classes and outlawed magic that doesn’t give you time to rest before the action begins. The world is poor, and dirty, and grey and at first I was kind of bored and confused but it's a world I slowly grew to love which is almost better than immediate enchantment. I found all of the settings described just enough to let my imagination run wild. All of the background information that gets thrown around throughout the story only enhances the appeal of a dark, Victorian world that lives by its own rules; a perfect complement for our lead character.
We follow Edna and her one track mind on a journey to save her little brother – the noblest of causes – which inevitably uncovers a plot thicker than she ever expected. At times I will admit that Edna’s hyper-focus on one task could get on my nerves. But you know what I loved about it? She grew as a person. From that single-minded naïve girl, to an emotionally-driven, powerhouse of a woman, we get to see all of that happen over the course of a few chapters. I felt proud of her.
As for the rest of the cast: I was charmed by the thief (I could talk quite extensively about how heart-poundingly charmed I was), amused by the witch, exasperated by the princess, and disheartened by the rebel’s story. It’s exactly what I expected and wanted from this story.
My Random Notes While Reading should reflect just that.
· I know I'm supposed to laugh at the shameless exposition but, really, what else are you supposed to do? I like it.
· Oh, they're going to fall in love aren't they
· Love a criminal who wears his heart on his sleeve
· Very morbid
· I really hope this is a kidnapping
· Why do you still have faith in the police?
· She's so one-minded and naive. It's almost annoying
· Plenty of things can be worse
· I want one
· You're a little slow on the uptake, sweetie
· Well that's just great
· Awesome, awesome visual. I love it
· Yes! This is the time to do that
· Oh my god, shut up
· No way
· Well that was adorable
· Yes! She's growing!
· Ha "and Rachel"
· Definitely getting more interesting the darker it gets
· Yup. Oh boy
· F*ck me
· Yeah I bet she helped him polish his sword...because she's a good friend
· Wait, what happened to ******?
· Okay that was funny
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed myself. There were definitely moments that proved I was emotionally invested in these characters. When something happened to throw a wrench in their plans or to force the characters into a revelation or confrontation, I wanted to jump in and help them – or at least hug Ike; he seems huggable.
The only thing I wanted was…more. I want to know more about these characters and this world. I want to see what other adventures they get up to. I don’t think the author has plans for a sequel or a prequel or anything like that but I will hold it as a testament to engaging storytelling that I will be pining for more.
If you want to read for yourself, you can find Cogling here.