In our world, Poe, short for Posy, would be in high school. Her world no longer has such things and her age makes her an adult. She considers herself to be a "machinist". She repairs the machines the ancients left for her people, a small outpost from a dying larger community. The most important machine is a river dredge that helps her outpost dig gold out of the river they live next to. Why gold? Why concentrate effort on one metal? Poe doesn't know. There are people who live outside and separate from the outpost. They don't want the river dredged and do their best to stop it. That sets up the conflict in the book.
This year Poe is the captain of the dredge. Orders are given that no one inside the dredge goes outside for any reason. This is to keep the outsiders outside, but it doesn't work. The raiders manage to get inside the dredge.
The world building is slight. All we know is that there has been a collapse of civilization with a concurrent degradation of the environment. All that happened in the past. People are basically scavenging the ruins, at least in the outpost. While Poe might dream of building new machines, her world has given up. The leaders of her community can only think of running away to some utopia where things have been put back together.
I am drawn to post-apocalyptic stories. I want to see how and if the survivors rebuild. This story is one that shows a world on the brink of doing something maybe. The collapse is recent enough that the leaders are still a little shellshocked and unable to deal. The people of Poe's generation are held in a sort of stasis, under educated and restricted. The end of Poe's term as captain mark the potential start of a real recovery.
I received the book I read for this review from BookishFirst.