The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt.
Sylvester Carthage, illusionist and engineer, has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively -- but none of the people skills. Fast-talking Arbrook Huxley, meanwhile, has all the savvy the Menagerie needs to succeed commercially -- but none of the scruples.
To save their show, Carthage & Huxley risk everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen. In this stardust-and-spark-powered empire of floating islands and flying trains, The Electrical Menagerie's bid at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroat world of critics, high society, and rival magicians -- but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there's more at stake in this contest than the prize.
Behind the glittery haze of flash paper and mirrors, every competitor has something to hide... and it's the lies Carthage & Huxley tell each other that may cost them everything.
Oh my goodness. This book is amazing.
First off, can I just say this is one book that’s being marketed accurately? It’s described as The Greatest Showman as fantasy, and that is EXACTLY what it is. It has enough Greatest Showman vibes while also being its own unique story.
Second, LOOK AT THAT AWESOME COVER.
Next up--the characters. The dynamic between Carthage and Huxley is INCREDIBLE. Both of their characters are so interesting, in personalities, in reactions, their viewpoints (at one point, we got to see them both describe the same person and it was so neat to see the different way they saw things), and in backstories. Then when the two of them clash and work together, I just sit back and watch the show. Perfect.
All her side characters had their own personalities and motivations and were almost as interesting as Carthage and Huxley. (But not quite, which is exactly the job of a side character.)
The mystery plot is intriguing—I was kept guessing right up until the perfect moment when my stomach sank and I was like “oh no, Huxley don’t take the bait . . .”'
Speaking of intriguing, the worldbuilding! It’s a different kind of fantasy world and the little details sprinkled throughout the story helped me understand it perfectly and feel like I was really there. (Without being overwhelmed by all the new information or annoyed that it interrupted the story.)
The climax was AMAZING. I could not quit reading it. I actually had trouble getting stopped reading throughout the whole book.
The book is very clean. While it does include some material that you may not want to hand young kids (a murder, attempted murders and kidnappings, drinking), for tweens on up, this seems like it would be a really good family read.
The only imaginable negative is that book two hasn’t released yet and I can’t find a release date anywhere. :)
I have a feeling this will definitely be making my Top Ten for 2022. As soon as I finished reading it, I turned around and read it again, it was that good. Highly recommended for fantasy fans, Greatest Showman fans, and any fans in between! (If you read it, leave a comment below and please let me know! I’d love to discuss it with someone.)
(And maybe if enough of us ask, we’ll be able to find out about book two. :) )
Storming By K. M. Weiland
Sometimes even pilots have to wing it.
In the high-flying, heady world of 1920s aviation, brash pilot Robert “Hitch” Hitchcock’s life does a barrel roll when a young woman in an old-fashioned ball gown falls from the clouds smack in front of his biplane. As fearless as she is peculiar, Jael immediately proves she’s game for just about anything, including wing-walking in his struggling airshow. In return for her help, she demands a ride back home . . . to the sky.
Hitch thinks she’s nuts—until he steers his plane into the midst of a bizarre storm and nearly crashes into a strange airship like none he’s ever run afoul of, an airship with the power to control the weather. Caught between a corrupt sheriff and dangerous new enemies from above, Hitch must take his last chance to gain forgiveness from his estranged family, deliver Jael safely home before she flies off with his freewheeling heart, and save his Nebraska hometown from storm-wielding sky pirates.
Cocky, funny, and full of heart, Storming is a jaunty historical adventure / dieselpunk mash-up that combines rip-roaring steampunk adventure and small-town charm with the thrill of futuristic possibilities.
I think it was the strong plot that really made this book shine.
This is a solid book. I never came across a scene or a character that I didn’t feel served a purpose, even if I didn’t know yet what that purpose was. Everything seemed perfectly timed—at all the right moments one of the (three) villains popped back up so we didn’t forget them or some other important character. Sometimes he would run into yet another problem, sometimes he would pull off a win.
While the story is not exceptionally fast-paced, it isn’t slow, either. It gives us the perfect amount of time to form the relationships we need with characters, and the action scenes we need to get our heart going. Each of the characters had a unique personality, even the side characters, and even the town itself.
She upped the intrigue by having three villains, and I couldn’t wait to see how Hitch was going to squirm his way out of that one.
Jael was my favorite by far. She was very different than what I had expected after reading the back cover copy. She shows courage even in the face of a world that abandoned her, a completely new culture, or a madman in a huge airship. But she also has a soft heart that naturally cares for those around her.
And don't forget the theme! It's the beating heart behind the strong plot.
Storming is a fabulous book to tackle over a break. Once that plot warms up, you won't be able to stop it from flying.
Hi there! Rachel again. Check out this section for book reviews and cover reveals of some of my favorites!