First things first, I need to say a huge thank you to Curiosity Quills publishing for allowing me access to this title in exchange for an honest review.
'Runner beware, for the mark of the Rider will shine.'
'A figure ducked behind the work shed where the glow of the back porch gas lamp didn't reach.'Ooh, what an ominous opener! This moment changes young Jonathan Montgomery's life, starting the novel with a bang.
Don't worry if you haven't read any of the books in the Treasure Chronicles series so far, as 'Runners and Riders' follows a completely new set of characters.
At the start of the novel, Jonathan Montgomery's family is cruelly slaughtered by Runners. His parents are inventors, and they've created something that the Runners want to get their hands on, so they take it with force. But Runners don't harm children, so Jonathan and his sister Rosamund escape unscathed, and Jonathan's quest for revenge begins.
Juliet lives by the seaside with her mother, waiting for her seaman father to return. Juliet's family aren't poor but they have no money at all compared to Anna Plaidy, a girl Juliet makes friends with when her family go to the seaside to stay at their holiday home. Anna teaches Juliet all about the Runners, because her brother and cousin are both members of the organisation. When Anna leaves and returns to the glamorous New Addison City, taking her illicit lifestyle with her, Juliet is bored and lonely.
So when her father returns and tells them he's received a large inheritance from a distant relative, Juliet is over the moon. They're going to be moving to New Addison City, and they're going to be rich just like Anna!
It doesn't take long for Jonathan and Juliet's paths to cross. He's trying to hunt the Runners, and she's on a mission to get close to him to gather intel for the Runners. The problem is that the leader of the Runners suspects she's trying to betray them, and soon enough her life is in grave danger... And she's falling in love with Jonathan, even though she swore that would never happen!
As this is listed as book #2.5 in the Treasure Chronicles, I'd been expecting to receive a novella. Discovering that this was a full-length novel was a brilliant surprise!
It takes a while for Juliet to accept that Runners are bad people, because she's grown up with them and they act as her extended family. The fight between good and evil isn't clear cut in this novel, because even when Juliet starts working with Jonathan to take down the Runners, she still calls herself one of them. It's filled with internal conflict as well as overt violence, making it tension filled and very gripping.
I loved the introduction of Princess Arlene, the original founder of New Addison City, who is over 400 thanks to her brain being implanted into a mechanical body when she died. It was brilliant to see a greater focus on the steampunk aspects that make this series unique.
The romance between Jonathan and Juliet is both obvious and underwhelming. Juliet believes she's madly in love with Anna's brother Arthur, telling her friend how much she wants to have sex with him, but when Arthur makes a move she protests that she's not that kind of girl and flees. I'm not saying he was allowed to have his way with her because she'd previously said she wanted to sleep with him, but it seemed out of character for her to have such a complete 180.
Then there's Jonathan. She kisses him and within minutes is asking him to sleep with her - despite saying she wasn't that kind of girl. Something about that doesn't sit right with me. Juliet wants to sleep with someone, anyone, and isn't fussed about who. I felt uncomfortable when they spontaneously married at the end of the book, as it seemed like it was just a way for her to get what she wanted.
The plot also hinges on one too many conveniences. It just so happens that Jonathan was adopted by a local family when he was orphaned, and that couple are Juliet's grandparents. What are the chances!
Despite these irritating aspects, I really enjoyed the majority of 'Runners and Riders'. Juliet's character development was inspiring, and the twists and turns throughout kept me guessing and gasping with shock. There was a lot more murder than I'm used to reading in YA, which had me on the edge of my seat: Jordan Elizabeth isn't afraid of being brutal when she needs to be!
I'd forgotten how much I enjoy Jordan Elizabeth's writing, because it's been over a year since I read the first two books in the series. This book has reignited my interest in this world, and because of the short story at the end - 'Treasured Hope' - I'm now very excited for the release of 'Wicked Treasure', the third book following Clark and Amethyst who are now embarking on new lives as parents to Jolene.
If you're a fan of steampunk, mystery and the star-crossed lovers and family rivalries that fill 'Romeo and Juliet', this is definitely the book for you.