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The Foundry's Edge: The Books of Ore #1    by Cam Baity & Benny Zelkowicz order for
Foundry's Edge
by Cam Baity
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The Foundry's Edge, the 'First Book of Ore' by Cameron Baity and Benny Zelkowicz, attempts to be a steampunk fantasy adventure for middle grade readers. Unfortunately, the whole package falls just a little short.

Phoebe Plumm has felt rather alone since her mom died and her father plunged himself into his work at The Foundry. To keep her distance from everyone, she snipes classmates and the hired helped with what she feels are harmless pranks. A favorite target is Micah Tanner, the young handyman son of the housekeeper. However, when her father is kidnapped by strange clones, Phoebe must rely on Micah's help as they travel through the land of Mehk hoping to save him.

Mehk is unlike any world they could have imagined, populated by mehkans, living, breathing, machines. They are joined by Dollop, a misfit mehkan, who steadily clings to his religion to get himself through his tough life. The three of them encounter many interesting mehkans as they travel through Mehk, some friendly, some not, but nothing can prepare Phoebe for when they find her father.

The premise of The Foundry's Edge sounds unique and promising, but the execution just is not there. First off, neither Pheobe nor Micah is likable, and both act about two years older than their ages, which somehow distances them even more. Dollop is likable, but his religious fanaticism just does not seem to fit with the rest of the story.

Another problem is the world-building. Many of the inventions are very hard to picture (and it is very important to understand what they look like), but some are just existing technology renamed. Plus, every one of these inventions is capitalized without explaining if it is because they are brand names or if the authors just felt they needed to be capitalized (the sheer number of capitalized words leads me to believe the latter). Both issues severely hurt the pacing of the story, which is detrimental when appealing to a middle grade audience.

There is so much that Cameron Baity and Benny Zelkowicz could have done in The Foundry's Edge to make it a creative and stellar read. Unfortunately, nothing hit the mark.

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