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Saturday, July 12, 2014

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DNF Review: The Lady Astronomer by Katy O'Dowd

The Lady Astronomer by Katy O'Dowd

The Lady Astronomer
Katy O'Dowd
Publication Date: October 30, 2011
Publisher: Untold Press

Lucretia's quiet life as an astronomer and hat-maker is quickly turned on its head by her brother. He is commanded by the king to build the grandest telescope in the land. Unfortunately for Lucretia, she is introduced to his majesty as her brother's assistant. Her nights spent on rooftops gazing at the stars are replaced by adventure and danger. In a race to build the Forty-foot telescope on time for the king, her misfortunes take their toll. When Lucretia finds herself held hostage at the Clockwork Court, the innocent country girl doesn't know who to trust. The lady astronomer finds court life to be more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Even if her brothers manage to build the telescope on time, she might not live to earn her freedom.

With the help of her brothers, Freddie and Al, and her constant companions Leibniz the Lemur and Orion the Eagle Owl, Lucretia embarks on a journey that could change her life forever. Can she find the strength inside to balance her new life and overcome the obstacles threatening her destiny? Only the stars will tell.
Updated review copy provided by author for review

I think I overestimated The Lady Astronomer when I first snagged it for free on Amazon. The synopsis sounded promising – A girl having a normal life as an astronomer by night and hat maker by day suddenly working for the king thanks to her brother? Then that girl gets held hostage by not just ANY court, but a clockwork court in which her life is in danger? DING! A winner! But when I actually got the review request and started the book, I found it... disappointing. HIGHLY disappointing.

The book follows Lucretia H, an amateur astronomer, and her brothers, Freddie and Al. The brothers are inventors. They receive a letter from the king to move near the castle – in a place called the Slough – to build a megascope, which is apparently a forty foot long telescope.

My biggest problem were the characters. The last names in particular. While I understand European English is completely different from American English, the last names being letters in the alphabet are a huge problem for the following reasons:
  • There's only 26 letters. Thus, there can only be 26 families. It's very limited if you ask me, and could possibly cause problems in the long run, especially if it's a series. What if you needed MORE than 26 families? Sometimes writing drives you to other plans than the original one. You may have planned for 10 but end up with... 30. That's 4 more, although I'm sure the LOL family don't laugh a lot. Unless you laugh when a loved one dies. Or you're a clown, but some would beg to differ about clowns being funny.
    • Besides, it's possible to die of laughter. That's not a good thing, to be born laughing and then you die of laughing within a few hours. Poor kid.
    • I'm not afraid of clowns.
  • If I were simply Sophia L, this world would be chaos in trying to figure out who's related to who. I could be mistaken as... *picks a random author* Nikolas Lee's daughter (I'm not) if he were Nikolas L. I could even be related to Pittacus Lore or Jennifer Lawrence! That might be a cool thing to some, but I'm sure the lot of us don't want to be mistaken as possible criminals because we're part of the H family. H in reference to Adolf Hitler. "Oh, you're part of the H family. You must be interested in restarting the Third Reich, but this might be the Fourth Reich. We got problems then buddy. BIG problems because World War III may be in the horizons."
  • The characters won't be memorable. What's so memorable about characters with letter last names and not like Herondale or Drew? Chances are, I'll forget who the characters are if I'm asked about my thoughts on The Lady Astronomer. "Um, it's about a lady astronomer... and is interested in studying the stars and planets..? O_o"
  • Isn't it weird that the O family works for the H family? It spells OH. Sort of a, "Hey, reader. The answer's right there. You just need to find the problem." Problem is.... (see second point in next section.)
  • It sort of tells me O'Dowd didn't take much time on characters. And not taking time on characters worries this reader. VERY worried.
I had other problems as well – it's not just the characters:
  • The story switches views a lot. Generally I don't have a problem, but I do with The Lady Astronomer because...
  • It doesn't have a plot to me. Where art thou?! The Catcher in the Rye didn't have a plot, but it was at least interesting, even though Holden Caulfield was a total pain in the butt (he was annoying).
  • This didn't sound funny. Personally, this isn't a huge problem. While it's easier to make me laugh in verbal conversations, it's not easy to make me laugh on paper. In fact, it's difficult, so it's a good try. I did find the pets funny though... they're simply adorable. Katy, you wouldn't mind if I stole Orion, would you? ;)
  • The "What, what" doesn't sound very realistic. It certainly catches my attention, but a king saying that is well... not exactly proper?
  • The "dears" and "my sweets" and so on and so forth feels REALLY weird. Especially when they're among siblings. It's like they're a married couple. Ew. INCEST.
While I loved Leibnez the lemur, Orion the owl, and the inventions O'Dowd came up with, The Lady Astronomer really could have used more plot and character development.

1.5 Owls

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Sophia is the owner and founder of Bookwyrming Thoughts, but also found on various parts of the internet. She's a 19-year-old communications major who has weird humor and doesn't fit the Asian stereotype (maybe a little). Books, chocolate, technology, and music are among some of her favorite things. For more of her work, visit her personal website.