"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Book Trilogy Review: A Riddle in Ruby - by Kent Davis

 Greetings, friends!

Time for my first book reviews of the year and you are getting threesome. Nicely organized how this occurred with both of my first reviews for books and movies being trilogies, eh?

These are books that Iʼve never heard of anyone else reading, and Iʼm going to try to change this! I have mixed feelings on these books, but I want other people to talk about them to. Plus, I can imagine that things in these books would make awesome fan art, so I want to see that. Iʼm giving you a dose of encouragement to try these books and let me know what you think.

Letʼs get into the reviews!

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning. All three of these reviews are spoiler free! Because of that the reviews for the second and third books will be more vague because I donʼt want to reveal what happened in the other books.

A Riddle in Ruby - by Kent Davis:
ʻNever pick a chemystral lock.ʼ
Ruby Teach is training to be a thief and picking locks is her specialty. Between cons with her mentor Gwath and sailing with her father, a smuggler and pirate, sheʼs learned a lot. Lately she keeps running into the same two suspicious characters: a young lord and his servant. The world flips when Ruby learns that people are after her, and she is forced to flee the life sheʼs always known. Organizations appear and offer help to her if she does what they want, but in this world of Tinkers creating chemystry and the reeve controlling everything, whom can she trust? What do they want with her, merely a skilled pickpocket?
Genres: Steampunk, Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade Fiction.
Characters: 8, weʼre just getting the characters started here and donʼt know a lot about them which can be confusing. But let me tell you, after reading the other books and looking back, good foundations are built here that will be used later even though it all seems crazy.
My favorites: The characters are so involved in every part of the story that spoilers can be easy when talking about them, but have no fear. Iʼm going an extra mile to avoid that. Iʼm just going to talk briefly about my favorites in the trilogy review as a whole. 
Words/Writing style: 10, I love this writing style. Itʼs told in past tense, third person, I think? Itʼs surprising that I claim myself to be a writer when Iʼm not the most knowledgable about this. All I know is that I love it. Ruby is the main character, but it shows different peopleʼs perspectives in a really cool way. I want to try writing like that, now!
 ʻHe had scoffed at watches and chronoms. Timepieces were for the weak.
ʻThe only true measure of time, he said, was the beauty of your heart. There was
never a maxim for that, though.ʼ
Quotability: 9, there are so many unique descriptions and dialogue that are easily quotable. I would say the lines more if I had anyone to tell them too.
ʻ...Ruby had always imagined swordplay as a thrilling dance, filled with grace and daring.
ʻThis was not a dance. It was a chicken coop on fire.ʼ
Content: 8, there is mild peril with people getting hurt in many different ways as well as death. With that are descriptions of the different wounds. At one point in time someone isnʼt wearing a shirt which is mentioned.
Some of you may be wondering, “What is this ʻchemystryʼ?” Itʼs basically as it sounds: chemistry. There is some magic involved. Even with rereading Iʼm still a little confused about it, but I thought it was really cool. Itʼs not like any of it could be recreated in real life because we are either not given the ingredients or they are fictional. Itʼs that people started learning about the wonders of science earlier than in actual history, so the setting is...steampunk. I canʼt think of a better way to describe it than that. Alternate history, perhaps?
Originality: 9, have I mentioned that the whole world is AWESOME? The plot was fun, but not particularly mind-blowing. Maybe that was because I didnʼt have a mind to be blown because it was already taken out by how astounded I am by the world and setting!
Good For: Anyone who loves steampunk, anyone looking for a circus of an adventure. 
Age Range: Itʼs categorized as Middle Grade Fiction, and I know that some people donʼt like to read that once their past the age, but I think itʼs really fun for all ages. This first book should be fine for young audiences, but 10 and up would probably enjoy it especially.
Overall Score: 8.5.
ʻAll well and good; Ruby ate devilishly complex locks for breakfast.ʼ
This was the book that made me realize that I love steampunk (Iʼm sorry, you guys are probably thinking, “Stop saying that word!”). I will gobble it up! Truthfully, these books are the only steampunk that Iʼve read so far, but the concept is beyond awesome. I want to explore this genre more.


The Changerʼs Key - by Kent Davis:
Henry Collins is trying to decode a book that could hold unimaginable secrets while he and the others look for someone who can actually help them. All the while hiding from the ones who are out to catch them. Rubyʼs having to work hard training in new ways, while avoiding mean kids and testings by a doctor. The reeve seem to think that she has some secret, something special about her and she wonders, what is it? Can she control it?
Genres: Steampunk, Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade Fiction.
Characters: 8. We get to meet new characters here! So, so, so many of them. I really liked the motivations for all of them and wish that I could remember the names of some of them, because the names are awesome.
My favorites: Avid Wake needs a shout out because of that awesome name. I also loved the names of the Curtsies, but Iʼm a little confused because sometimes the girlʼs name was Never, and sometimes it was Ever. Which one is it?
Words/Writing style: 10, same as last time! To me it seemed like we got more of Cramʼs point of view which I really like because I relate to Cram in so many ways. We also got a noticable more chapters from Henryʼs perspective! I love that because I love Henry. The visuals that are built into this writing are fantastic!
Quotability: 7, this had lines that I could share but they would be out of context and very confusing. I havenʼt quoted this one in my head as much as the first one (with the chicken coop line), but it still has really good lines.
ʻThe whole of this doctoring, if it could even be called doctoring, was worthy of suspicion. In point of fact the dwelling, if it could be called a dwelling, was equally worthy of suspicion.
ʻIt was a cave with a front porch.ʼ
Content: 7, once again there is that high stakes adventure where people get hurt and sometimes killed. Kids purposely hurt each by fighting a few times, but there is talk about why that is bad. There are some medical thing in here, such as someone getting blood drawn, but itʼs not too much. At the end there is something scary that carries on through the next book, so Iʼll explain it the following review.
The quality of this one is lowered slightly because of two instances of crude humor which I did not appreciate, but other than that the first and second are pretty similar in terms of content. Same with the setting and chemystry/fantasy elements.
ʻWhy did chemystry always smell so terrible? Couldnʼt the Tinkers use their almighty skills to make their concoctions smell like rhubarb pie?ʼ
Originality: 9, again, so cool! Part of this reminded me of Spirited Away (2001), but it was only one small detail and the stories are completely different. This book is brimming with details that I want to see brought to life.
Good For: Anyone who loves steampunk, anyone looking for a circus of an adventure. This one also has an edge of mystery, so it would be good for mystery lovers!
Age Range: The stakes are more intense, so Iʼd say maybe just a little older. 12 and up. Depends on the person, though!
Overall Score: 8.
“I cannot go back in disgrace. We must go forward into madness.”
Sometimes when I think about this book it seems very much like the middle book in a trilogy, where nothing much happens, but at other times it seems to me to have quite a story of its own! I like the separate stories as we focus more on the individual characters. Mostly I want to reread it!


The Great Unravel - by Kent Davis:
ʻThey were declaring their allegiances. They were hauling their flags up the mast.ʼ
The time has come to pick a side in this unfolding war. Doubts have been held so long about who to trust, and more bonds are broken each day but decisions have to be made. Disguises and espionage will be needed to play this dreadful game. Can the friends get together to save the people from a terrible invention? Who will win this game of chess, chemystry, and power?
Genres: Steampunk, Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade Fiction.
Characters: 9, extra point here because of all the growth! These characters have come so far. I absolutely loved the message of forgiveness and the quiet moments surrounding that time.
“...You observe. You guess. You open yourself to the possibility of who they might be. How they are different from you. How they are the same as you.”
Words/Writing style: 8, I have to take off a few points because some adults *cough* started swearing. It was mild and I donʼt know if most people would notice it, but I did and was annoyed. Other than that I still love the style! I wanted more of a certain point of view (I feel like he was neglected), but other than that awesome.
ʻThe smells sang to him, wrapping him in a rich song of Science...ʼ
(This writing wraps you up in the story!)
Quotability: 8, I wrote down so many parts that I couldnʼt even use them all! Pretty good. Still not as quotable as the chicken coop, but weʼll make it work.
ʻAhead of them in the hallway lay a stout wooden door, the kind of door whose makerʼs philosophy was most likely “You can have your frills and carvings. Give me something that will keep out a hungry werewolf.”ʼ
Notes: There was this really cool thing happening near the end, but it would've tied in nicely if Ruby had related it back to her training as we were in her point of view already.
Content: 6, here is where we step into a tricky area. Part of this one involves (and Iʼm sorry if this is confusing, but Iʼm avoiding spoilers while at the same time still not sure of what happened) energy being taken away from people. This is one part of this that I donʼt want to see a visual of because the description is pretty terrifying. An important note is that itʼs shown as being bad and is only used by the “bad guys”.
There is the usual of fighting, injuries, and death. Mentions of peopleʼs underclothing. One final thing that I want to talk about: the “Source”. When I read these it kind of freaked me out, but thinking back on it I think I was overreacting. Now Iʼm thinking of it as being like the Force (they do rhyme...) in STAR WARS and Iʼm cool with that. If you are bothered by that, then you might want to do a double take on these books. 
Originality: 8, did this reach a level of something scary that I had never seen before? Um, maybe. The plot was so unique, though! There is one "creature" that I was confused about for a while but as soon as it clicked I thought, "Ohhhh, that's really clever." Endings can be so difficult, but this one was good.
Notes: The quote, ʻAdventuring was starting to get to her.ʼ reminds me of a line in The Silver Chair - by C. S. Lewis.
Good For: Anyone who loves steampunk, anyone looking for a circus of an adventure. Anyone who is having trouble with forgiveness or is feeling lonely and unforgiven for something.
Age Range: As I've been mentioning scary things for all of these reviews then I'm going to say this one is more PG-13. As always, it depends on each person!
Overall Score: 8.
Well, it's the end of a wild ride! I had no idea how everything was going to be wrapped up, but I was satisfied. 

A Riddle in Ruby overall trilogy review:
Words/Writing style: 9.5. Quotability: 8. Content: 7. Originality: 8.5.
Characters: 8.5. My favorites: Of course my favorites are our four main characters:
Aruba Teach: She's a fun and spunky heroine! She has a few stereotypes, but I really liked seeing her struggles and figuring out how to overcome them.
ʻWhat choice did Ruby have? It was simple. And insufferably hard.ʼ
Words to describe these next three: 'Skill, resilience, and courage.':
Henry Collins: I love Henry! He's so sweet and caring and brave while thirsting for knowledge.
Cram Cramson: I hardcore relate to him. I don't even particularly know why, but I do. I love a good sidekick. 
ʻHe wasnʼt a complainer. He could hear Mam in his head: “Moaners never get the pie, boy, and more, they always end up scrubbing the pan.”ʼ
Lord Athen Doyle: I have a sinking feeling that there was some kind of agenda with this character that I'm too dense to see, but nevertheless I liked this character and thought that he had one of the strongest arcs.
There are a lot others who I really like, or heavily dislike, or am extremely conflicted on, but Iʼll leave you to find out about them.
Age Range: The action builds as these books to on, so they are good for growing kids. Even adults or young adults could like them, like I do. (Because I honestly don't know how old these people are. More on that in a minute).
Overall Score: 8.5!
Worth reading?:  Yes, for my introduction to steampunk! Also for the matters of forgiveness in the third book. It was beautiful! All around a fun time that I'm glad I've experienced.
Will I read again?: Rereading books is a very rare activity for me, but I'm going to say yes. If only to better understand them and be in the setting again.
Bonus thoughts
This trilogy is...pretty awesome. A few extra things:
Things I donʼt like:
  • Something that bothered me the whole time is that we never really knew how old everyone is. Maybe it mentioned it and I just didnʼt catch it, but it was weird to me. At the beginning of the first book Iʼm guessing that Ruby is about 12 (give or take a year), but Iʼm really not sure about any of the others. Theyʼre on the young side but thatʼs a big range and I donʼt know any more than that.
  • Doyle's and Greta Van Huffridge's relationship to each other was a little weird. I don't knew what to think about it. The hatred seemed to be so weakly founded? I'm confused. Maybe after I read it again I'll get it more.
Things I do like:
  • As I have mentioned in all of these reviews, the writing style is awesome. Another neat thing about these books is that before each chapter there is a "quote" or statement from someone or something in this world. I've seen this before and I really like it because it gives you a more immersive experience.
  • I've mentioned this so many times, but once more for good measure: STEAMPUNK. THE SETTING. THE WRITING. I am thoroughly in awe.

I read the first book in this series when it first came out...and was so confused. I reread it last July so I could read the other two books and even with having read it before I was still puzzled, but I began putting things together and admiring the world building. The next two books were great as well and I can see myself reading them each several times to truly solve them.

And I'm done! If any of you have read these books, let me know! And if you haven't, please do so I have someone to talk to! I need a second opinion!

Thanks for reading! Does anyone else like steampunk as much as I do? Any recommendations?



  1. This looks like a good series! I'm in need of a new middle-grade fantasy to read, so this was perfect timing.
    Also, yes, I love steampunk!

    1. Oh, I hope you have fun with these books if you're able to find copies. MG fantasy is usually really good.
      Another fan of steampunk! The whole idea is just awesome and I want more all the time.

  2. This looks super interesting! I'll have to check it out at some point soon. I enjoy the occasional steampunk. :)
    One steampunk book I really enjoy is "The Fog Diver" by Joel N. Ross...it's kind of an MG steampunk/dystopian crossover, and very enjoyable!

    1. I know you like actual chemistry, so I have a feeling that you'll be interested in this fictional "chemystry". :)
      Thanks for the recommendation! Lately I've been looking to branch out into more dystopian, too, so that sounds perfect!

  3. I haven't read these, but they sound really cool. I love a good steampunk book. Some I would recommend are The Inventor's Secret and The Mark of the Dragonfly.

    1. They're fun! I've heard of The Mark of the Dragonfly somewhere before and The Inventor's Secret looks like it would totally be my thing. Thanks for telling me about those two!


    And these books sound like they are too! I love the writing style in the quotes you chose. :D I get into literary "moods" and have lately begun to feel myself tipping more and more into an MG fantasy mood (rereads of childhood favorites and those classic series I never actually read as a kid like The Dark Is Rising and Prydain, and the Wingfeather Saga), and I maaay just have to add this to the list for when I really settle down with some fun, adventurey MG. :) Lovely review (as always)!

    1. Thanks! My sister made it for me (see if you can spot her signature) ages ago and I had it first back in...2018? I thought it was time to use it again. :)

      Yes! Usually I don't pay attention to the writing style, but this was so energetic and had lots of humor that I couldn't help being fascinated! I always want to read MG as a break from the heavy stuff required of me, so I get that. It's so light and refreshing, you know? I've never read those series either, but I've heard nothing but praise for The Wingfeather Saga! This trilogy is perfect for adventure seekers! :) Thank you, Sarah! You're so sweet!

    2. Oh ooh I think I spotted it! Very slyly just put right into the open book, yes? :)

    3. Bravo! Yep, that's it! That picture is from one of the Shrek movies so it was convenient for her to easily use. :)

  5. Replies
    1. There is so much happening that they pull you in right away, no doubt about it!


To comment, or not to comment? That is the question. Whatever you decide, I would love to hear from you!! I am always open to suggestions, advice, and any other comments! Even if you don't agree with me, I would love to hear from you as long as you keep the comment respectful and on subject. And, please, no swearing. I love comments on old posts!!
My computer won't let me leave comments, so it might take a few days, but I will reply!

"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, where you stop your story." -Orson Welles