Plot: In this futuristic YA novel set in historic 1895 New York City, bionic Crimsonfall Reapers Genie Gearhart, her brother Hans, and Alice Walker are tasked with hunting monsters, such as the Abominations called Mistlings, undoing curses, and otherwise protecting the citizenry from everything from supernatural nuisances to life-threatening evil. Their job, however, is complicated by the requirement that Genie conform at all times to Miss Haversham’s Primer for Proper Young Ladies, 1895 edition, creating such conundrums as, how do you effect a proper introduction to a street gang?
Prose/Style: The book is full of wonderfully detailed visual images presented in straightforward sentences that make the story easily accessible. Jordan Brooks Hill presents the parameters of her created world in well-integrated and easily assimilated passages as the story progresses, enticing the reader to come along on the adventure. We learn about Skycracks and the Scourge, Curseweavers, Clankers, Faraday cages, and Sprocket’s goo.
Originality: An unusual premise, inventive machines (The Pneumatic Omni-Directional Ventilator, for example), and a wide array of other-worldly ghastly and ghostly beings and doings make this a wonderfully entertaining story that will appeal to adult as well as junior high and high school readers.
Character Development/Execution: Genie and Hans are twenty-somethings just learning their jobs in this world fraught with danger. Alice Walker is a rich socialite and airship captain who is truly a delight with her not-at-all-proper take on nineteenth century New York. Many other characters, human and not, inhabit the story, each a distinct personality that Hill describes succinctly and convincingly.
Date Submitted: August 21, 2021