Brasswitch and Bot by Gareth Ward

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Walker Books, 2020, ISBN: 9781760652210.
(Age: 11+) Recommended. 'Until today, being called a Brasswitch would have got you killed. Now, it may save your life.' (Back cover). In this book, the first in a new Steampunk series, set in the Victorian era, Wrench is forced to choose between outing herself as a Brasswitch and saving countless lives, or allowing the runaway tram to crash, killing her and all the passengers. Wrench chooses to stop the tram using her Brasswitch powers which enable her to control machines, but is arrested as an aberration. Saved from her interrogation by the mechanoid, Bot, Wrench becomes the Brasswitch of the elite 'Cabal Thirteen'. Working with a team of regulators with Bot her new boss, Wrench must come to understand and control her powers, while hunting down rouge aberrations. Sadly orphaned by the cabletram accident that killed her parents, Wrench has spent years hiding her Brasswitch powers, fearing the regulators. With a good balance of self doubt and sassiness, Wrench befriends her new team consisting of other aberrations, combining humour and compassion.
The first book of a new Steampunk series, The Rise of the Remarkables, Brasswitch and Bot follows Wrench, the female protagonist, finding herself, working with a dynamic team and facing prejudice from all fronts. This action packed story is well paced, humorous, detailed in a Victorian era setting and ideal for middle grade readers. I found it just plain clever and I think you'll 'bally-well' enjoy it!
Themes: Steampunk, prejudice, relationships, good and evil.
Melanie Phillips