Aug 12, 2014: Twisted Cogs tells the story of Elena, a gifted artist who travels from her small town into the city in hopes of being apprenticed to the best artisan in the city. However, she finds that realizing her dreams might not be as easy as she initially imagined. In order to achieve her goal of artistic success, Elena must learn navigate a world that presents her with questionable alliances, dubious friendships, and vicious enemies.
By building an intricate world, the author elevates what is already an interesting narrative into something unique and beautiful. Even after reading only a few chapters, I already had a very vivid image in my mind of Itazola (the story’s AU Italy) which I credit entirely to the depth and richness of the story. But perhaps more importantly—at least for me—the author avoided making this lovely world too difficult for the reader to understand. There wasn’t too much terminology or a complex geo-political system to wrangle with. For me, this was a major plus. I was able to immediately immerse myself into the universe of the story without having to read a primer first.
The characterization is also, for the most part, very strong. Elena is likeable from the very first chapter. She has just the right balance of confidence and anxiety that marks every young adult on the cusp of independence, and her emotional reactions always seemed very natural and believable. I particularly enjoyed Elena’s give-and-take with her spirit companion, Ele who has the sass and sense to balance out Elena’s more impulsive nature.
My one issue with this story was the relationship between Elena and her mother Joanna. Joanna is written as a fairly harsh woman who punishes her daughter for any perceived slight, no matter how inconsequential, but there were these odd moments of tenderness between Joanna and Elena that seemed out of character to me. It could be that the author was trying to build more complexity into this character, and it just went over my head, but I didn’t find this relationship—or Joanna’s character—to be consistent enough.
Still, I would definitely, definitely recommend this story for anyone who is looking for a beautifully written fantasy narrative. Take your time reading this one. I guarantee you’ll want to savor every exquisite detail.