Run - don't walk - to get Joe Golem and the Drowning City by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, especially if you like steampunk.
I've recommended Christopher Golden's books here at readergirlz many times, and for good reason: his stories rock, and they often feature a strong female protagonist. In the heart of Manhattan, you'll find 14-year-old Molly McHugh. Described as "all freckles and red hair and youthful vigor," Molly is a force to be reckoned with. The girl's got moxie, and she can certainly hold her own. She trusts her gut, which has helped her to survive in the Drowning City.
Just what has happened to the once-glorious city? Here's a little backstory:
Fifty years ago, earthquakes shook Lower Manhattan, submerging the city and forever changing the landscape and livelihood of all who lived there. As the years passed, the gap between the classes widened: the wealthy live and thrive in Uptown, where they grow wealthier, as the poor people in submerged Downtown try desperately to survive in what is now known as the Drowning City.
It is in Downtown that aging magician Felix Orlov resides. Molly, his energetic and devoted assistant, lives the floor above him. Dark dreams, a seance, and an attack lead to Orlov's abduction and cause Molly to run away - and enlist the help of Simon Church, an investigator, and Joe Golem, the bodyguard to end all bodyguards. If Hellboy were mixed with Eliot Spencer from Leverage and dressed in clothes from some classic Warren Beatty films, he might just be Joe Golem.
Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola make me want to live in the Drowning City, to meet the wonderful characters they've created and help them defeat the monstrous villains. They've also offered up a short story, Joe Golem and the Copper Girl, but I still want more. Mignola's black-and-white illustrations are, as always, memorable. One only hopes that the movie, which is currently in development, captures the spirit and intensity of this book. The submerged city, falling buildings, and fight scenes need to be Inception-level awesome on screen. This captivating story deserves all of that, and more. I also recommend this novel to fans of Fringe. (Hello, Manhattan and alternate history!)
Want to know more? Read my full review at my blog, Bildungsroman.