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Reviewed by Scott Cahan for Readers' Favorite
Metal and Bone by C.I. Chevron is inspired by the classic story of Cinderella, broadly reinterpreted through a steampunk science fiction lens. The main character is called Ella by the poor oppressed people that she calls her friends while the wealthy aristocrats know her as a mysterious thief named Cinder. She is beautiful and kind, as we would expect, but she is also smart, brave, and resourceful. The world that Ella lives in is marred by poison gases in the air and a whole class of citizens who have been crippled or maimed by war and disease. Ella is one of them and she wears a mechanical arm and foot that she displays proudly around the poor, but hides among the rich. In the process of doing her wicked stepmother’s dirty work, robbing the rich, she accidentally meets a handsome prince, the unwilling heir to the throne. Although the two are instantly attracted to one another, life for both becomes much more complicated after that. There are many in London, rich and poor, who will stop at nothing to keep the two of them apart.
I found Metal and Bone to be wonderfully clever in the way it took a familiar tale and weaved it into a fantastic new fantasy that felt completely unique and fresh. Although set in the 1800s, it had plenty of science fiction elements including early versions of robots, mechanical arms and legs that operated like real limbs, airships, and an assortment of other gadgets. Author C.I. Chevron has a poetic style of writing that makes every sentence a joy to read. Chevron’s style can especially be seen in the romantic relationship between Ella and the prince. The love that grows between them is complex yet pure, frustrating yet sweet, and beautifully written from start to finish. I highly recommend Metal and Bone for an original retelling of the Cinderella story that is exciting, romantic, creative, and fun.