The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer
In this world, sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth, they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.
Charlotte rescues a mysterious boy and brings him back to the camp. Grave (as they start calling him) has no memories, but seems innocent enough. However, there’s something strange about him that alerts Charlotte’s brother who is also leader of their group. And Charlotte has a spirited relationship with Jack that is slowly developing into something more.
The Inventor’s Secret is first in an alternative history, steampunk series where the USA wasn’t able to secede from British rule. While the mystery surrounding Grave seemed obvious right away, there’s more to his story than meets the eye. And there is a love triangle that forms between Charlotte, Jack, and Jack’s brother Coe. The story has plenty of adventure, mystery, and interesting characters for middle readers and adults alike to enjoy. This first installment ends abruptly with a bit of a cliffhanger. I’ll definitely be picking up the next in the series and am looking forward to following these characters and their adventures.