An author of Speculative Fiction, speculates about fiction.

Book Review: Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon

It’s always nice to get a random email with someone offering you free stuff. Especially when it’s free books.

So, when I was contacted by Lucy Saxon’s marketing personages and asked if I’d do a review, I was totally up for it. And, lo and behold, I had a steaming pile of hot literature on my doorstep shortly afterward. Here’s the skinny:

Lucy Saxon wrote Take Back the Skies when she was a wee sixteen year old and Bloomsbury took it up when she was seventeen. She’s now nineteen and the book is finally out there. Good going, Lucy!

So, what’s it about? Set in the world of Tellus, TBtS, is definitely a Steampunk book which tickles all the tropes you’d expect from my beloved genre. There’s a plucky heroine, some airships and experiments and adventures and goggles and dirty-faced engineers and an oppressive government to overthrow. But there are a lot of new ideas here, too. Saxon’s Tellus is made up of a series of islands with violent storm fronts separating them. So, to get where you’re going you have to fly, and through some pretty hefty storms, too. Great idea. Plus, each island is its own nation with its own culture and look, so you get a lot of diversity (set up for later books to explore, no-doubt). So, we have a great setting with some nice fresh ideas to keep hardened Steampunk readers interested.

Then there’s the plot itself. It starts off with a teen-runs-away-from-home arrangement, when Cat, the main character, escapes her oppressive father and stows away on an airship. Cat is soon drafted onto the crew, although they think she’s a boy. Shenanigans ensue.

I won’t tell you too much else in case you want to read it for yourself, but suffice to say a lot of children have been going missing on Cat’s home island of Anglya and they haven’t gone to the seaside. It’s now up to Cat and the crew to find out how, why, and shut those mothers down!

Again, the ideas are great, the setting is certainly one I wish I’d come up with. The description of Tellus is well done and intriguing.

Downside? The story never really had me rocking along, unable to put down, but it’s a very pleasant read. Not every book has to grab you by the collar and headbutt you. Personally, I thought there was an awful lot of blushing. I mean…Cat has no control over her facial capillaries, and the awkward teenage romance has kind of been done to death elsewhere. However, for the YA crowd, this book will be just swell.

Upsides? It has a surprising ending. Which is brilliant. I had a genuine little smile of pleasure on the last page. I found myself nodding and thinking: “Nicely done, Saxon”. It’s a nice easy read to carry around in case of literary emergencies.

So there you go. This book feels a little like the backstory for something yet to come; a book-length prologue that will whet your appetite so that Saxon can slap you in the face with an even better book next time. But that’s no bad thing. Because when the next book comes along, I’m pretty sure all hell will break loose. If you want a nice steady Steampunk read, or if you have coglings who are of YA age, TBtS is for you. I think it’s definitely a series to keep your eye on.

 

Thanks for reading.

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