The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson is a fantasy story with steampunk elements, for young teens or tweens.
is a young scavenger and machinist, with an uncanny skill with
machines. In Piper's world, frequent meteor showers bring fragments of
other-world technology hurtling to the ground, accompanied by a
poisonous dust. When the dust clears, scrappers like Piper rush to
snatch up the fragments, and occasionally something that they find can
be repaired and sold for a profit. Since her father died, Piper dreams
of escaping the scrap towns and finding a better job as a machinist in a
big city, but she knows that escape will take more money than she is
ever likely to see. Then, one night, one of Piper's friends foolishly
ventures out during a meteor shower, and Piper goes after him. Out in
the meteor fields, Piper is amazed to see a caravan coming through,
despite the danger. When the caravan is hit by a huge meteor, Piper's
friend is injured. Piper rushes to the remains of the caravan, hoping to
find medical supplies. What she finds there is a girl of about her own
age, alive but unconscious. Piper manages to drag both her friend and
the mysterious girl back to her home -- but when a menacing stranger
comes looking for the girl, Piper makes a split-second decision to run.
The girl, named, Anna, bears the mark of the dragonfly, granting her the
same level of protection as members of the king's household. Piper
assumes that she will be handsomely rewarded if she can return Anna to
her family. The two girls stow away on the 401, a steam engine that
carries supplies through the scrap towns to the capital city. But the
401 is guarded by Gee, a boy with mysterious powers -- and the journey
will be more dangerous than any of them could have imagined.
was a good story, but not a great one. I think that its target audience
of tweens and young teens will enjoy the friendships that grow between
the characters, as well as the fantasy and steampunk elements. I found
that there were a few holes in the worldbuilding that distracted me from
fully enjoying the story, but perhaps the things that bothered me will
be more fully explained in future volumes, as I am fairly sure that this
is intended as the first book in a series.
(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher)