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Venturess

Review

Venturess

Just days after her grand reveal in MECHANICA, Nicolette is finally beginning to make a life for herself, free of her step family’s tyranny. Her friendship with Fin (heir to the Esting throne) and Caro (palace servant) continues to blossom. Her sponsor, Lord Alming, has given her money to start her own store for her magical mechanical inventions.

But amid all her happiness, revolution is brewing with the Faeries who have had enough of Esting’s oppressing rule. Most Estingers, including Fin’s father, the King, want to force the Faeries back into submission and even obliterate their race. Fin and his friends, on the other hand, vehemently defend this innocent population and their freedom.

"Cornwell set a great pace for the book with suspense and action and, setting aside a few flaws, I would recommend VENTURESS to preteen fantasy lovers looking for a quick summer read."

Nicolette and her friends are put to the test when she receives a letter from her old housekeeper, Mr. Candbery, a Fey who escaped from Esting years ago and is now begging for help from Nicolette and Prince Fin to sign a treaty/truce and bring an end to the killing and destruction. The situation at home is becoming dire, as Nicolette discovers a secret robot army. Will she follow her sponsor or stand up for what she believes in? As Nicolette journeys with her friends into this unknown territory, she wonders, is Mr. Candbery really who he says he is? Do they have what it takes to save him and his people?

When I started reading VENTURESS, I had no idea it was a sequel (and had not read the first book), but for the most part, Betsy Cornwell does a great job incorporating details from MECHANICA, so I wasn’t too lost.

My biggest reservation about VENTURESS is that it seemed like CINDER for a younger audience. I felt like Cornwell reused themes from other books but oversimplified them. The message of tolerance and feminism weren’t the most original or most effectively conveyed. For example, Nicolette argues that women should be independent and do what they want and yet all her inventions are things to help women with household chores. The tolerance message fell equally flat. While his father, the King, wants all living beings to be his subjects, Fin wants people to be free but never once fights to overthrow the corrupt and cruel monarchy that he belongs to. I was also disappointed by the lack of romance. The threesome among Fin, Nicolette and Caro is strange and confusing, constantly teetering between romance and friendship.

However, the engaging side characters made up for most of these flaws. Surprisingly, Cornwell managed to create a very realistic and touching relationship between Nicolette and her robot horse creation that brought me nearly to tears in some scenes. Mr. Candbery effectively neutralized Nicolette’s sometimes immature and annoying behavior, making it funny by revealing how absurd her thinking is at times.

Overall, Cornwell set a great pace for the book with suspense and action and, setting aside a few flaws, I would recommend VENTURESS to preteen fantasy lovers looking for a quick summer read.

Reviewed by Alice D., Teen Board Member on August 14, 2018

Venturess
by Betsy Cornwell