A breathtaking tale of passion and adventure in the untamed skies!
Prosperity, 1863: a lawless skytown where varlets, chancers, and ne’er-do-wells risk everything to chase a fortune in the clouds, and where a Gaslight guttersnipe named Piccadilly is about to cheat the wrong man. This mistake will endanger his life . . . and his heart.
Thrill! As our hero battles dreadful kraken above Prosperity. Gasp! As the miracles of clockwork engineering allow a dead man to wreak his vengeance upon the living. Marvel! At the aerial escapades of the aethership, Shadowless.
Beware! The licentious and unchristian example set by the opium-addled navigatress, Miss Grey. Disapprove Strongly! Of the utter moral iniquity of the dastardly crime prince, Milord. Swoon! At the dashing skycaptain, Byron Kae. Swoon Again! At the tormented clergyman, Ruben Crowe.
This volume (available in print, and for the first time on mechanical book-reading devices) contains the complete original text of Piccadilly’s memoirs as first serialised in All the Year Round. Some passages may prove unsettling to unmarried gentlemen of a sensitive disposition.
235 e-book pages
Series, book 1
January 5-7, 2016
Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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Let’s see…how in the world do I write a review that’ll do this book justice? I find this to be a regular conundrum when I’ve read a book that so completely blows me away. To. The. Stars. All the freakin’ stars.
I can’t get over how amazed and enthralled I’ve become with Steampunk and the fantastical world of floating cities and aeroships created in this book by the ever-talented Alexis Hall whose brilliance with the written word spans many genres. I mean….this is the seventh book of his I’ve read. I’m pretty much convinced he can write anything I’ll salivate to read.
There is so much to this. Layers upon layers of incredible things. Whores, criminals, drug addicts, automatons, Krakens, aetherships, aeromancers, lawlessness, murder and mayhem, skyhooks tethering floating cities, and…let’s toss in a few more whores for good measure ’cause why the hell not. It’s full of shit I know nothin’ about but nevertheless had me glued to my Kindle.
At the center of it all is the thoroughly adorable Piccadilly, a displaced, uneducated street urchin, who’s as quick to pick your pocket as he is to steal your heart.
This is told entirely from Piccadilly’s point of view, in his special kind of eloquent streetwise guttersnipe lexicon of 19th century England. For me, thoroughly Southern American, it took a little bit to get used the language for the words to flow. The thing is…out loud? There’s no mistaking I’m southern. If I concentrate real hard, I can mask it–some (I think)–for the sake of the times I have to do a public speaking gig for work. BUT, in my head, I am a master of regional and worldly accents and dialects. So, once I had a grip, I was good to go…and so, so amused by Dil’s word choices.
“When I first rolled into town, there weren’t much in the ol’ brain box except turning the usual tricks and running the usual rigs. Cos me being Gaslight gutterborn, I ain’t precisely grained for the straight and narrow.”
“…any nick-ninny flat can get what he deserves, so the real trick is getting what you don’t.”
The side characters elevate this to soaring heights of humor and intrigue. It’s a motley crew of social rejects, outcasts, whores, and criminals. We have:
Ruben–the holy-hotness-on-a-stick defrocked preacher-man with too-modern-for-the-times views on spirituality.
Milord–the murderous, but gentlemanly, dethroned kingpin.
Miss Grey–the opium-addled seer and navigatrix of the skies.
And Byron Kae–I’m still not sure what he/she/they is other than probably one of the most beautiful and nuanced characters I’ve ever had the pleasure to read with his/her/their long, flowing hair woven with sparkly bits and feathers, and flowing skirts, and such a quiet and shy kindness about them.
“A fine bunch of dickheads we made, all wanting, and not getting, and not knowing how to get.”
More, many more, colorful reprobates grace the pages. But these four, plus the adorable Piccadilly, make up a wonderous vagabond crew who survive a grand adventure in the skies by the skin of their teeth.
I wasn’t sure at first…because the fantastical/historical/sci-fi adventure genre is not typically my thing. But this shaped up to be absolutely my kind of story and has well-earned pride of place as one of the best books I’ve ever read.
The story–it just builds and builds in genius ways, and through it all, we see humanity flayed open and laid bare. There is want, love, and finding a place, in the least likely of places, of belonging and acceptance.
So yeah…My GoodReads status when I finished this book:
I THINK I’VE JUST READ MY MOST FAVORITIST BOOK OF 2016!
How can that be?
How. Is. This. POSSIBLE?
Review coming soon as I can locate my wits.
Well, I’m still not sure I’ve found my wits, such was the impact of this book. I just hope my inadequate ramblings above have done at least a bit to illustrate how glorious I think this book truly is.
Onward I go to eagerly devour the rest of the series.
This review also posted on GoodReads and Amazon.