Peter Bunzl brings Moonlocket, the second thrilling Cogheart story, to ChipLitFest. Here is Pheebs' review of the first volume.

Peter Bunzl has created Cogheart, a tale of adventure in a beautiful setting. Set in a steampunk style, mechanical cog-work inspired world of flying zeppelins and mechanical creatures, the plot revolves around Lily (a young lady with an addiction for gory thrillers), Robert (a clumsy clockmaker apprentice) and family secrets that are slowly becoming unravelled. Aided by a host of mechanical friends, the quirkiest of whom is a mechanical fox, the two protagonists embark on a journey through the skies to escape two menacing men with silver metal eyes and to find out why Lily’s father has gone missing.

I liked this book a lot; it was peppered with wit, the characters were very likeable and it explored significant issues in a sensitive and persuasive fashion. For example, mechanicals, in the world of Cogheart, are seen as inferior to humans, yet seem also to be able to think for themselves and to feel both pain and emotions. Through its protagonists Cogheart argues strongly against the normal social prejudice against mechanicals, with Lily straight up punching someone in the first few chapters over the matter. I shouldn’t be advocating violence, which certainly does not solve anything, but the way that Lily stood up for the rights of beings that could not do it for themselves provides an important lesson that should be included in children’s and young adults’ novels.

The idea of mechanicals also provided an interesting line of thought for artificial intelligence. It was refreshing to see it portrayed as a positive element of invention, not the harbinger of human extermination. This is partly because mechanicals are not able to harm humans in the Cogheart world, but, to me, the mechanicals of Lily’s household strongly feel like they are part of the family. Just goes to show how far kindness can take someone.

If I had a criticism, perhaps because I am slightly older than the intended reader, at times the wording is a little laboured to get a certain intended message across. But the sentiments being expressed are critical for the younger generation to learn, and it is undeniable that both the main characters serve as spectacular role models. Both Lily and Robert have their respective talents; Lily is ‘lock-picker and sky-pirate extraordinaire’, while Robert is a master of clockwork and airship know-how. It’s impossible not to root for them.

Not everything in Cogheart is strawberries and cream, with a hefty helping of daring exploits and danger, but overall, it’s a heart-warming novel that deserves to be read.

The Cogheart Adventures with Peter Bunzl 16:00-17:00 Sat 28 April, ACE Centre for 8+