A Copy of this book was provided to me by the Author in exchange for an honest review.
The blurb: “There are roads that are not on any map. There are worlds beyond our own, where cities hang between the clouds and Guildships sail on steam and lightning.
There is a girl living on the streets of London, hunted by ruthless mercenaries and a boy made of shadows and smoke.
There is a place beyond the furthest edge of the Dreaming, where the Lady of The Falling Leaves is calling her home.
And there is a secret, buried in the heart of Rachael’s city, that will change our world forever.
The Stolen Child is a breathtaking young adult adventure that takes the reader from industrial chaos of modern London to the vast and impossible world of the Borderlands, a world of flying ships, floating cities, magical automata, and ancient wonders. Drawn together from across distant worlds by events that were set in motion before either of them was born, two young women discover a strange connection, and a friendship that will change their lives.”
This is a hard one to pin down for me. And there is a funny story to how I got a hold of this book. I use Reddit a lot both at home and work. I browse tons of subreddits on various topics. One of those was Star Citizen, and I ended up mentioning in a thread that I had started reviewing books. Then the author of this one contacted me, and here we are.
Strange places to get review copies. But I digress.
This is the story of two girls: Rachel, a homeless runaway living in London and Arsha, a girl living in the Borderlands, outside of our known reality and connected to a multitude of places via the Ways. You could get all that from the blurb, but the story is really hard to define, genre-wise. It has elements of Urban Fantasy, regular Fantasy, and a dash of what I can only call Steampunk, although its more like A Vanishing Glow as its magical tech not steam based (They use caged Lightning to power their airships, and the only magic they wield has to do with Fate).
First lets discuss the good aspects of the story. Firstly, it ENDS. That’s right, no cliffhanger, no poor ending. There is a solid ending that ties up everything about the primary conflict and story, and then leaves a door open for the inevitable sequel. Considering he calls this Book 1 its safe to assume there will be more adventures with Arsha and Rachel. Secondly, the world building is solid and the author is actually pretty solid at “show don’t tell”. He doesn’t drown you in exposition but instead focuses on the characters and story, letting the world build itself in your mind based on what is going on around everyone. And he does it well. Not perfectly, by any stretch. But well enough that it kept me turning pages and wanting to see where things went.
Also the world of the Borderlands is interesting to say the least. I want to know more about the Borderlands and how its structured, who the Guild really is and the various peoples of the world.
Now for a bit of the bad. And this is a personal issue rather then a technical one.
I cannot, for the life of me, stand Teen Angst. This book is a Young Adult novel. And its a solidly written one. But Rachel is a ball of angst and rage and issues. And it makes her, for me at least, unlikable. Arsha also frequently gets into fits of angst and “my life is terrible!”
Thing is, they have legitimate reasons FOR this angst. It makes sense in the context of the story. But I am not a huge fan of it, on a personal level. For Arsha, its not too frequent, but for Rachel? That girl is broken. She has had a terrible life and it shows. She has massive issues involving trust, and constantly tries to be strong and run from her problems. Every time someone tries to help she basically bites the hand that feeds, and it gets frustrating at times for me because I start to scream in my head “YOU IDIOT CHILD STOP BEING A NARDMUFFIN!”
Oh and there were a couple of grammar and spelling issues, but sadly I forgot to mark them down in order to send em to the author. Nothing major, and not really frequent. In a 400 page book I can recall 3 errors roughly.
Overall, this is a solid debut from a new author, and if you are interesting in a strange blend of Urban Fantasy and Magical Tech/Steampunk, you should give this a read. I rate this a 3/5. For me, it was pretty average at the end, but it was still a good story. And I am curious to see where it goes.