The Tinkerer’s Daughter – Jamie Sedgwick

Cover for 'The Tinkerer's Daughter'Steam-elf? No punk edge, but still fun.

The Tinkerer’s Daughter by Jamie Sedgwick.

Stars: Three of five.
Cover summary: Breeze is an outcast, a half-breed orphan in a world devastated by 1,000 years of war. She never knew her elven mother. Her father leaves her in the care of a reclusive Tinker, with her true identity safely hidden. Then the war comes and Breeze is exposed. If she has the courage, Breeze has a chance to change the world. If she fails, she’ll be hunted to her death as a traitor. (from
Provenance: review requested by author, but I bought my own copy via

The Tinkerer’s Daughter is an above-average novel with an engaging main character and fast-paced narrative.  The world-building is kept mostly unobtrusive, but it does depend on the reader’s knowledge of elves to fill in some gaps.  The setting includes inventions of steam-powered vehicles by the Tinkerer, without all-out characteristics of steampunk.  As a food item, I would describe it as fresh popcorn – tasty and not unhealthy, but not a meal.

The main character, Breeze, was the highlight of this book.  Her narrative point of view is enjoyable and easy to read.  The book launches with a tiny bit of background, explaining the racial tensions between humans and elves and also explaining that Breeze is young but will mature very quickly to her adult size.  The triggering event for the novel is her father’s departure to join the war.  As soon as Breeze is fostered off with the Tinkerer, the plot revs up and Breeze is swept up into large-scale action for the rest of the book.  I was definitely drawn in to the story.

Exposition, Breeze’s emotional development, and secondary characters were weaker points in the story.  At the start of the book, Breeze’s extra-young age and then accelerated growth did not make complete sense to me as a narrative device.  Front-loading the explanation bogged down the first chapters: what I really wanted was momentum.  Also, after making this point that Breeze is literally immature, I was a little skeptical that she took on the later challenges and independence with such confidence.

In Breeze’s whirlwind adventure through the realms, she meets several characters that were interesting but I didn’t learn as much of them as I would have liked.  The human general, the ruling elves, and the Tinkerer: all well-written but played minor roles. If Sedgwick writes more books in this world, I would like to see these secondary characters developed more fully.

Leftovers: miscellaneous review-crumbs

  • Young adult: yes, it’s all age-appropriate, even for tweens. There are mentions of violence and fighting, but nothing too gory.
  • Steampunk? Sedgwick describes this as a “young adult fantasy/steampunk crossover”.  I am not an expert in genre definitions; but, this lacked many steampunk characteristics.  Yes, there were steam engines and inventions. But, I usually expect a strong Victorian-British flavour in the world, and a much, much larger number of gadgets in common use.
  • I was reminded of David Brin’s early book The Practice Effect – specifically in the creation of airplanes from scratch, and descriptions of precarious flight.


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