Book Review: MOONLOCKET (Cogheart Series) by Peter Bunzl

Thanks Kidlit Exchange and Jolly Fish Press, with the help of the great Peter Bunzl, for the ARC of MOONLOCKET, the second book in the Cogheart series. All opinions are my own.

It’s no secret I really enjoyed the first COGHEART book as an entertaining story and thought-provoking morality tale that would really add to the right classroom. (Again, thanks to Kidlit Exchange and Jolly Fish Press for that ARC).

In MOONLOCKET, Bunzl takes us back to Brackenbridge in 1897*, eight months after COGHEART, and we get to see Robert’s complicated backstory. An arson at Robert’s Da’s old clockmaker shop leaves a mysterious half-moon locket hidden in a pile of rubble: It’s the only clue to Robert’s one living parent, his missing Ma.

While the series is told in third person, the focus and main point of view this time are Robert’s. Which only makes sense, as the storyline centers around his long-lost crime/vaudeville family, estranged mother and a stolen diamond that powers dowager Queen Victoria’s (we know she’s widowed based on the year, but dowager is just such a cool word) mechanical elephant.

The secret of Lily’s mechanical heart and Robert’s race against his criminal mastermind grandfather Jack Door have all the stakes and action of COGHEART, but a deeper emotional current as Robert both learns and dishes out some very bittersweet, heartwrenching lessons around the mother who abandoned him abruptly as a toddler.

Bunzl’s steampunk London is a mixture of fact  (Luddites beating a human/mech Hybrid senseless, Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, child labor is accepted as a virtuous path for orphans) and fiction (new friend Tolly is a Baker Street Irregular, the star of the parade is a mechanical elephant powered by a mystical diamond).

While MOONLOCKET is a standalone, I strongly recommend reading the series in sequence. One of the coolest characters is Lily’s snarky pet mechanical fox Malkin; in the second book we interact more with him, step into his thoughts, and fall in love with him more than we did in Cogheart. The crotchety little fox was part of what made MOONLOCKET even more of a pageturner than its predecessor.

Caveat/Spoiler: Jack Door shoots his own adult son in front of Robert, Lily, and Tolly, which while handled very quickly and matter-of-factly, might be upsetting to some.

Throughout the Cogheart series, Lily and Robert are the level heads and voice of reason, holding up the fragile egos of morally gray adults. Sounds about right. 😉

MOONLOCKET  releases 8/13/19 from Jolly Fish Press. Is it me, or is their new book list killing it this year?

*This is almost a year after COGHEART, which means – gasp! – we have a book about not one, but two fourteen-year-olds, with zero romantic sparks between them. My vote is this contingency keeps MOONLOCKET squarely in Middle Grade territory.

Look for the Book #3, SKYCIRCUS, in 2020.

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