Kress, Adrienne. The Friday Society.
6 December 2012, Dial
Book from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.
In early 1900s London, Cora is the lab assistant to the opium addicted Lord White, who has taken her off the streets and raised her to be his helper, only to ignore her contributions to his inventions when he hires Andrew Harris as his assistant. Nellie is the assistant to The Great Raheem, a magician, and Michiko works for the nasty Callum, who trains Londoners in Japanese martial arts. The three meet up when all of them are at a ball. On the way home, Nellie and Cora happen upon an injured Michiko... and the dead body of a scientist who had also performed at the ball. The three find themselves again and again in situations where there are dead bodies... to the confusion of Officer Murphy, who takes a shine to Nellie. Cora continues inventing and starts regularly making out with Andrew even though she resents his presence; Michiko, whose grasp of English is rather weak, trains a young Japanese man to be a samurai; and Nellie finds herself kidnapped! The dead bodies continue to mount, and when St. Paul's cathedral is blown up, the girls decide they must use their skills to try to uncover who is behind all of the destruction... and why. At the end of the book, they decide that they did such a good job at this that they will form a business as The Friday Society (since they are all "gal Fridays", ensuring that another book is to come.
Strengths: Lots of adventure and a Jack the Ripper, Edwardian era vibe. Steampunk gadgets (cavorite-- which glows and makes objects impervious to gravity!), martial arts, kick butt heroines, mad scientists, and some steamy kisses make this lots of fun.
Weaknesses: If you suspend all thought that this is a historical novel, it will go down better. This was the suggestion of Charlotte's Library, and it did help. While there was a general air of historical fiction, there were frequent lapses in language that struck me as really awkward. (Page 68 "But the fact was, she did look charming. She looked smokin'.) This won't bother the target demographic, but it did make me enjoy the book a bit less.