Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil & Kaja Foglio
In a Europe ruled by Sparks, mad scientists who terrorize the population with bizarre inventions, a pretty lab worker named Agatha Clay seems destined to spend her career doing lowly jobs as every invention she tries to make doesn't work. Things get strange though when ruthless Baron Klaus Wolfenbach takes over the town and Agatha finds herself a prisoner on his massive airship and working with students and the beguiling Gilgamesh Wolfenbach. But suddenly it becomes apparent that Agatha has more than a little Spark of her own and when faced with danger she shows she might just have the mentality of the dime novel legendary heroes who have long disappeared from the world.
Genre: fantasy, steampunk
I honestly haven't read a huge amount of pure steampunk. I've read and liked Leviathan and Worldshaker, but I'm not a devotee of the genre. This was a nice little throwback to the penny adventure novels and radio serials that involve scientific adventure. There's a bit of tongue in cheek about the book too. It's aware of what it is and doesn't take itself seriously. Agatha keeps ending up in front of people in her underwear to her embarrassment because she sleepwalks. Baron Klaus is an evil genius who keeps getting interrupted from his torture. Othar is a swashbuckling hero who is REALLY annoying and not very bright. Gil is supposed to be a bad guy but he's not quite sure he wants that yet. It took a little while to keep straight all the names and the worlds, which is the only reason I marked it down. The book plunges right in from the beginning and in the first chapter or two it was a struggle to keep up, especially with all the technology being thrown around too. The Jagermonsters also talk in a strange German accent that takes a little while to figure out, but they're actually the funniest characters in the book. There's also a delightful talking cat who's smarter than the rest of the people in the book. The story wasn't deep, but it was fun and anyone who likes steampunk would probably enjoy it.
"Fiends!" roared Othar. "Kill her and I'll tell the Baron!"
"Vell mebbe ve keel you too, schmot guy."
The other Jagermonster began to look troubled. "Gorb..."
"Gorb, dis iz turnink into von of dose plenz...The kind vere ve keel efferbody dot notices dot ve's keelink pipple?"
Gorb deflated slightly. "It is?"
The other Jager nodded and slung a friendly paw over Gorb's shoulders. "Uh-huh. Und how do dose alvays end?"
Gorb muttered, "The dirigible is in flames, everybody's dead, an' I've lost my hat."