Cogheart by Peter Bunzl | Berg’s Book Club

Book Title: Cogheart
Book Author: Peter Bunzl
Book Series: Cogheart Adventures
Series Number: 1/2
Genre: Children, Steampunk
First Published: 1st September  2016
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Cogheart is a children’s steampunk novel by Peter Bunzl. It follows the adventures of Lily Hartman and her friend Robert, the clockmaker’s son as they flee from danger and search for answers about Lily’s  father’s

disappearance. It’s a light read, probably perfect for a child around the age of ten as it has a lot of universal issues, such as death, that are dealt with in a way that a ten year old child would be able to manage. It also matches the age range of the protagonists.

Like other books I have read, this book was part of one of my Pop-sugar reading prompts:

A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t

I began reading this book in late 2017 but didn’t finish it as I discovered my uni load increased more than I was expecting. Getting a quarter of the way through it, I finally gave up hoping to return to it, so here I am, returning to the book.


Lily’s father is missing, her housekeeper is destroying all the mechanics and searching through all her father things. But danger is coming and men stalk her through the shadows as she flees her home with Robert, the clockmaker’s son, and Malkin, her mechanimal fox.

Her Penny Dreadful comics cannot save her now. With her father missing, can she trust the one other person she holds dear?

Plot and Narrative

This book falls under the genre, mystery, as well as steampunk as Lily and Robert venture out to find out what really happened to her father. They also try to work out what the bad men chasing them are after.

While it is quiet predictable—it is a children’s book after all—the story is well told and keeps your attention. I think this is helped by the introduction of mechanics and mechanimals (animal robots) there is a little discussion of politics as well, though not very much so I feel this is going to become more prominent in future books.

Lily begins to put together the pieces of what the men are after and learn the truth about her mother’s death as she searches for her father. She also learns that adults cannot be trusted. The plot

My favourite scene is probably around the beginning of the book. Lily is at this upper-class, “You must balance your books on your head” all-girl boarding school and she doesn’t like the whole stiffness of it. So she skips a class and goes to her room where she finds a mechanic crying because the mechanic accidentally died the sheets pink.

Lily helps her cover it up so she doesn’t get in trouble but some of her roommates come in and find the sheets and start being mean to the mechanic. Lily punches the girls to defend the mechanic. It just got to me and for that I loved it.

There are quite a few scenes that are emotionally powerful and as vivid as that one and I think it’s one of the strengths of the narrative.

The plot was crafted and handled relatively well. It focused on the box which was in Lily’s father’s office and what may have been inside it. However, the one criticism of the book that I have is that Lily begins to have dreams that are really memories about what happened to her mother.

I feel this is an easy way to explain what happened to her mother but I also feel that there is no way that she would actually be able to remember some of the things that she did remember due to being unconscious at the time. That’s my only real criticism really. Other than that, the world building was vivid and I feel well put together.


Another strong aspect of this book aside from the emotionally strong scenes is the strength of the characters, especially the mechanics and the mechanimals.

What I liked was that these clockwork creatures were also very much alive. They could feel pain, words hurt them but they were excluded from society, treated like slaves or pets. They had a few friends but not very many and they were not allowed to  own property.

Deep down, the characters are a metaphor for the slavery that was going on in the victorian times and also the unjust that minorities still face today but it is told in such a way that a child would understand, care and learn from it without getting too upset.

Malkin gets offended when Lily does not stick up for him when someone calls him scruffy and refuses him entry into a building. When Lily needs his help he refuses until she apologises.

The characters are very vivid and believable and they develop throughout the story. Probably Robert most of all.

Robert starts off as the clumsy boy who is learning to fix clocks and mechanics from his dad and is easily scared but still loyal—a bit like Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter in this sense. He helps Lily flee and as a result, is unable to return home.

Because of this, he overcomes many of his fears, becomes more skilled at his craft and he is able to use is wit and knowledge to get out of dangerous situations. I think if I had a favourite character, it would probably be Robert.

Lily also changes but more on an emotional level. Originally spoiled, she learns to become independent and appreciate what she already has. She learns more about herself and her history, But I recon her story continues in the second book. She has choices to make.


The book is good and perfect for a child. It has meaningful messages and lessons hidden inside but also some fun. The characters and the world is very vivid and there are some beautiful emotional scenes that can just pull at your heartstrings.

Even though this book is for children, I would recommend it to adults who love steampunk too. I enjoyed the book and it makes a great light read.

I often read while also listening to the audiobook and while the audiobook is not bad, I would recommend sticking to the physical book.


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