The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Full Steam(punk) Ahead!: Steampunk Fiction - September 2013

Selected and annotated by Keri Carroll


Bemis, John Claude. The Nine Pound Hammer. Random House, 2009 368p. Gr. 5–7
Though once defeated by heroes of old, an ancient evil known as the Gog is at it again, looking to claim Swamp Sirens who hold the key to completing his nefarious scheme. Now it’s up to the children of these heroes of old, all part of a travelling medicine show, including orphaned twelve-year-old Ray and characters such as the son of John Henry, to defeat the Gog once again or risk falling victim to his terrible plan.

Cameron, Sharon. The Dark Unwinding. Scholastic, 2012. 336p. Gr. 7-10.
Seventeen-year-old Katharine, having been orphaned years prior, has played servant to her cruel aunt and her aunt’s loathsome son for as long as she can remember. However, when her eccentric uncle begins whittling away her cousin’s inheritance, her aunt sends Katharine away to have the old man committed. After she arrives at her uncle’s, Katharine’s affection for him begins to grow (not to mention for his attractive apprentice), despite the surrounding landscape’s effect on her sanity in the form of hallucinations and visions.

Carriger, Gail. Etiquette & Espionage. Little, 2013. 320p. Gr. 7–12.
Sophronia Temminnick is learning more than how to bat her eyelashes at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, as additional lessons include how to gather intelligence and use an array of weapons. Pressure from her mother keeps Sophronia in line as a proper lady, but an attack on the school from flywaymen (highway men of the sky) in search of a rare prototype forces her and her friends into action to unravel a conspiracy.

Clare, Cassandra. Clockwork Angel. McElderry, 2010. 496p. Gr. 9-12.
Tessa’s newly discovered abilities—that she can transform into anyone whose possession she holds—put her squarely in the middle of a supernatural battle happening in London’s Downworld. Several groups and persons of interest, such as the Dark Sisters, the Magister, and the Shadowhunters, all want her to join their forces, but Tessa must balance these newfound powers and responsibilities with commitments to her unreliable brother and an edgy, attractive boy.

Cross, Kady. The Girl in the Steel Corset. Harlequin Teen, 2011. 480p. Gr. 7–10.
Blessed with supernatural strength, Finley Jayne is quickly persuaded away from her job as a maid in 1897 London to assist the Griffin King, the Duke of Greythorne. Along with his friends, a group of eclectic pseudo superheroes, he undertakes an effort to explore a world below London in an expedition originally started by Griffin’s parents. Their plans are sidetracked, though, when they learn of a plot by a force known as the Machinist who is attempting to usurp Queen Victoria and sic subservient automatons on their human masters.

Dennard, Susan. Something Strange and Deadly. HarperTeen, 2012. p. Gr. 7-10.
The undead are roaming free during the 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor Fitts to deal with these monstrous reanimations while searching for her kidnapped brother Elijah. In order to locate him, she decides to enlist the help of the Spirit-Hunters, a detective-style group involved in all things paranormal. During this hunt, Eleanor discovers the troublesome link between her high-society life and the insurgence of zombies.

Fisher, Catherine. Incarceron. Dial, 2010 448p. Gr. 7–10
Finn is trapped on the Inside of Incarceron, a living prison that constantly surveys its inhabitants, yet he dreams of the world beyond the walls and wonders how to escape his Big Brother-esque trappings. On the Outside, Claudia is tired of the of living in a re-creation of Victorian London due to the Era Protocol. When the keys to Incarceron come into Claudia’s possession, her life becomes intermingled with Finn’s, and the two must work together against the political rule and Incarceron itself.

Griffin, Bethany. Masque of the Red Death. Greenwillow, 2012. 336p. Gr. 9-12.
An unnamed plague has taken over Araby’s city, forcing the rich to wear specialized masks to keep their air clean. To drown out the surrounding misery of those who suffer from the plague, Araby seeks comfort in the Debauchery District, where patrons partake in drugs and drink. Not long after she begins falling for Will, the bouncer of the club, Araby is whisked away by her best friend’s brother Elliott in an effort to overthrow Prince Prospero (also Elliott’s uncle) and regain control of their fallen city.

Harland, Richard. Worldshaker. Simon, 2010. 288p. Gr. 6-9.
The Worldshaker is a city-sized behemoth that crawls an alternative 20th-century Victorian England on oversized rollers, searching for natural resources. The soon-to-be Supreme Commander of the Worldshaker, Col Porpentine, is more than ready to claim his rightful place as ruler, controlling the “Filthies” who power the Worldshaker unseen. That is, until Riff, one of these Filthies, stows away in Col’s room, immediately infatuating him and throwing his beliefs about what is right into disarray.

Kirby, Matthew. The Clockwork Three. Scholastic, 2010. 386p. Gr. 5-8.
A mysterious bond connects three seemingly random teens: Giuseppe, a street fiddler; Frederick, a clockmaker’s apprentice; and Hannah, a hotel maid. Each of the three quickly finds out that the other two are the keys to fulfilling their hearts’ desires, as each person holds a piece to the puzzle of a mysterious treasure that lays buried beneath the local park. Though all three characters have reason to be wary of the others, they must look beyond their differences to claim the hidden treasure—and stay alive.

Kittredge, Caitlin. The Iron Thorn. Delacorte, 2011. 512p. Gr. 8-10.
Lovecraft, Massachusetts, is a city of despair. Its inhabitants are controlled by Proctors, and the city itself is under the rule of the giant Engine which rests underground. One of the city dwellers, sixteen-year-old Aoife Grayson, simply wants to be an engineer and is lucky enough to be one of the few women at the School of Engines. She is content with her life (despite the facts that her mother has gone insane from the necrovirus Madness and her brother recently disappeared) until she comes across a letter from her brother, sending her into the mirror world of Thorn which is populated by supernatural elements, as well as a troublemaking love interest.

Kristoff, Jay. Stormdancer. Dunne/St. Martin's, 2012. 336p. Gr. 9 up.
Yukiko and her father, the Sh?gun’s finest hunter, are sent on a quest to find an arashitora, a griffin-like beast said to be extinct. If they fail, they die. Against all the odds, though, Yukiko, her father, and his men discover this majestic beast and capture it for the Sh?gun. But when their airship crashes on the return journey, Yukiko is stranded with the arashitora and soon comes across a group of resistance fighters ready to take down the Sh?gun’s empire.

Lackey, Mercedes, and Rosemary Edghill. Dead Reckoning. Bloomsbury, 2012. 320p. Gr. 7-10.
Set in a reimagined West Texas during the 1860s, Dead Reckoning follows Jett Galatin on her search for her missing brother. Disguised as a man, she soon comes across two other wanderers, White Fox and Gibbons, both of whom are also searching for lost loved ones. The three team up to discover if all of these disappearances are the result of zombie attacks on their version of the Wild West where the undead run free and airships fill the sky.

Link, Kelly, ed. Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories; edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. Candlewick, 2011. 432p. Gr. 9-12.
Fourteen original short stories make up this anthology from the likes of authors such as Libba Bray and M.T. Anderson. But none of the stories take place in the classic steampunk setting of Victorian England; instead, locations like the Wild West and Rome are center-stage, giving other venues an opportunity to display their steampunk cred.

Milford, Kate. The Broken Lands; illus. by Andrea Offermann. Clarion, 2012. 461p. Gr. 5-9.
The city of New York, circa 1877, is being closely watched by a diabolical unknown entity looking to harness the power of the Brooklyn Bridge. However, two wily teens are onto this scheme: Sam, a cardsharp, and Jin, a fireworks expert, and both aim to shut down the nefarious plan. The two must battle to alert the city of the evil happening beneath their noses while waging their own war on the romantic spark that exists between them.

Petrucha, Stefan. Ripper. Philomel, 2012. 432p. Gr. 7-10.
Older children are being forced out of Ellis Orphanage in 1895 New York, meaning fourteen-year-old Carver Young is suddenly out on the streets. But through a stroke of good fortune, he becomes the apprentice of one of his personal heroes, Albert Hawking, who helps run the New Pinkertons, a detective agency currently searching for the famed murderer calling himself Jack the Ripper. With a bit of his own detective work, Carver joins the hunt and discovers that his connection to Jack may run deeper than he knows.

Reeve, Philip. Fever Crumb. Scholastic, 2010. 336p. Gr. 5-7.
Before London became the first Traction City, there was Fever, a young girl raised by the Order of Engineers to repress emotions and to keep her expectations for life low. However, since she has been assigned to discover information on a race of humans who thirsted for power—the Scriven—a wash of foreign memories fills her mind and makes life difficult. When Fever realizes that her grandfather (who was also Scriven) implanted these memories, she must flee for her life from the city she called home.

Reeve, Philip. A Web of Air. Scholastic, 2011. 304p. Gr. 5–7.
The sequel to Fever Crumb (BCCB 6/10) finds Fever caring for two orphans, Ruan and Fern, all on her own. Having abandoned London, the three are now in search of the small town Mayda, where Fever comes across a young boy named Arlo who shows her the majesty of flight. And despite Fever’s attempts at keeping emotional attachments at a distance, he begins to win her heart little by little.

Slade, Arthur. The Hunchback Assignments. Lamb, 2009 288p. Gr. 6–9
Born with the ability to shapeshift, though tragically disfigured, a young baby is bought by Mr. Socrates and his travelling curiosity show and given the name Modo. At the age of thirteen, Modo is thrust into London society to fend for himself and adopts the role of detective. One of his assignments leads him to Octavia Milkweed, who also works for Mr. Socrates, alongside the discovery of an organization known as the Clockwork Guild who plans to overthrow Queen Victoria’s reign.

Trent, Tiffany. The Unnaturalists. Simon, 2012. 320p. Gr. 7-10.
In New London, the Church of Technology and Science rules, and Vespa Nyx’s newly discovered magical powers puts her in a position of danger. At the same time, outside the city limits, a boy named Syrus is given the task of finding a new witch to rule over the creatures living within the woods. The two young protagonists are brought together by events occurring within the city as both realize that there’s greater danger lying in wait.

Westerfeld, Scott. Behemoth; illus. by Keith Thompson. Simon Pulse, 2010. 485p. Gr. 5-9.
Picking up right where Leviathan (BCCB 12/09) left off, Prince Alek and “Dylan” (Deryn) Sharp find themselves heading toward the Ottoman Empire in an attempt to prevent them from joining forces with their German opponents. In addition, the British must use a new airship known simply as “the behemoth” to clear a path for the Russians to assist in battle to the Mediterranean. The two teens have formed a friendship over their shared plight, but Dylan deals with the internal struggle of revealing her true self to Alek in the hopes that he will see her as more than a friend.

Westerfeld, Scott. Goliath; illus. by Keith Thompson. Simon Pulse, 2011. 560p. Gr. 5–9.
The final installment of Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy (Leviathan, BCCB 12/09, and Behemoth, 12/10) finds Prince Alek and “Dylan” Sharp en route to Japan in an effort to fight off attacking forces. Famed inventor Nikola Tesla is scooped up along the way, claiming that he’s invented a weapon—the Goliath—that is so dangerous that the mere sight of it should put an end to the fighting. As if all of that wasn’t distracting enough, Alek discovers that Dylan is actually the female Deryn, forcing the two to negotiate their feelings for one another in light of their social and cultural statuses.

Westerfeld, Scott. Leviathan; illus. by Keith Thompson. Simon Pulse, 2009. 448p. Gr. 5-9.
Prince Alek, the son of Archduke Ferdinand, is spirited away in the middle of the night soon after his parents’ assassination in order to remain hidden from German soldiers in an alternative World War I. At the same time, Deryn Sharp has convincingly disguised herself as “Dylan,” a young male soldier in the British Air Services. After an airborne accident lands Dylan on assignment aboard the Leviathan, the gigantic whale-like biomechanical warship where Alek resides, the two must put aside their political differences to save themselves from oncoming German forces.

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