Also known as its subtitle, 'Being a Wholly Accurate Account of Matters Concerning Steam, Skullduggery, and the Reckless Application of Mathematics in the Late 19th Century'. A YA action/adventure comedy available online in pdf form as well as for purchase in hardback. Steampunk, with a smattering of adventure, romance, and instances of Science!.
Tropes specific to this book include:
- The Chessmaster: Count Vladimere Von Orwick, otherwise known as 'the man who makes the trains run on time'. Among his various exploits: Blackmailing a thief with a pardon notice which would cause every crime they committed to be publicized—therefore putting them in mortal danger, assigning a reckless operative to a cold case on the off-chance she'll either discover something new or get herself killed, justifying him in re-opening the case under the guise of investigating her death ("The only way I can lose is if she manages to do nothing. And considering Miss Snipss history, I find that possibility to be the least likely of them all."), and carrying an antidote for every poison imaginable on his person at all times, 'just in case'—including antidotes for at least one poison that's listed as incurable.
- The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: When the assassin is questioned as to how all his competitors died, his response is 'Cancer'. When asked precisely how cancer could decapitate someone, his response is: 'Very dire cancer'.
- For Science!: Pretty much everything the Daffodils do is to this end (although they apparently also have a very healthy appetite for destruction).
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her......: Williams granny to Arcadia.
- In Which a Trope Is Described
- Mad Scientist: The entire Daffodil family—except William Daffodil.
- Reluctant Mad Scientist: William Daffodil, who is terrified of his family's proclivities for mad science—and has instead dedicated himself to the far safer pursuit of 'mad mathematics'.
- Trickster Archetype: In some respects, Arcadia Snips.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Pretty much all the major villains (including Nigel initially, then later Mr. Peabody and the Society for Distinguished Gentlemen.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Driven home several times by a variety of impossibilities, although the author seems aware of this shortfall (William Daffodil's various feats of 'reckless mathematics' include such tidbits as dividing by zero, dividing zero by zero, and then subtracting by cat and multiplying by dog—just for kicks). Perhaps most evident in the notion of Probability Engines—engines capable of calculating mathematics so complex that they can predict the future. Which, by the way the novel explains them, is very bunk.