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Fires of Invention: Mysteries of Cove #1    by J. Scott Savage order for
Fires of Invention
by J. Scott Savage
Order:  USA  Can
Shadow Mountain, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Steampunk dystopian fantasy. I think J. Scott Savage has created a whole new subgenre with this Mysteries of Cove series. At first, Fires of Invention seems like a typical middle grade dystopian. The city of Cove is located inside a mountain because the air outside has become so polluted because of technological advances that it is now poisonous to humans. That is where the dystopian element comes in in order to prevent the same happening inside of Cove, creativity is outlawed and inventors are considered worse than traitors.

Trenton Coleman, an eight-grader who has his mind sent on being a mechanic, walks a fine line between being good at fixing things and being an inventor. The steampunk aspect quickly comes up when, to avoid punishment for constructing an unapproved device, Trenton discovers on odd metal cylinder that leads him to Kallista Babbage, the antisocial daughter of Cove's most notorious inventor.

Kallista is convinced that her father left the piece as a clue to something he was working on before his mysterious death. At first, Trenton wants nothing to do with Kallista, but when he graduates and is assigned to the farms as his apprenticeship, he knows that teaming up with Kallista on solving the mystery of her father's invention is the only way he can work with his beloved machines. As the two delve deeper into the mystery and learn more about Cove's history, including its founding date, the steampunk element becomes stronger. As for the fantasy portion, I will not give that away here.

Fires of Invention is an excellent example of all the genres it encompasses, and especially of strong middle grade fiction. Trenton and Kallista are both very flawed characters, and that is what makes them resonate with readers. Aside from compelling characters, Savage keeps the plot moving at a fast clip with plenty of twists and turns, and events that do not quite play out the way you would expect in a typical MG novel. J. Scott Savage is already an accomplished writer, so I know the rest of the Mysteries of Cove series will be just as amazing as Fires of Invention.

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