(4 stars) A fun and quick read. Really enjoyed the characters and I'd love to learn more of them, especially the outlaws. The to-the-point writing style of the author appeals to me, for I am not one who enjoys long descriptions of things. And I always love a good heroine!
The Outlaws of Kratzenfels
M. Jonathan Jones, author
The Kingdom of Kratzenfels has fallen. King Sigmund is dead, and the Order of the Iron Knights has won the war of machines against magic. War-walkers and spider-wights roam the land, spreading terror wherever they go. The Count von Falkenhorst, the leader of the Iron Knights, needs one thing to make his victory complete: the hand of the Princess Helda in marriage. But Helda, daughter of King Sigmund and the witch-queen Raggana, has other ideas…
Jones’s steampunk-esque fantasy world calls to mind the dark origins of fairy tales. Princess Helda of Kratzenfels is forced to watch as her kingdom is conquered and her father killed by Count von Falkenhorst after a long war of machines vs. magic. To cement his claim to the kingdom, the count wishes to marry Helda, but she’s able to convince him to wait after her mourning period is over, allowing her time to devise a plan to kill the count and take back Kratzenfels. As Helda searches for a way to escape her imprisonment, she discovers that the count is responsible for much more sinister things than just the war. Jones’s story is decidedly lacking in worldbuilding, but what is there is imaginative, such as the terrifying part-man, part-machine creatures called spider-wights that hunt Helda relentlessly, and the Twain brothers, two halves of one brain in two different mechanical bodies, who prove to be valuable assets to Helda in the final battle. She is a strong and engaging character who uses her wits to get her out of trouble, and she also happens to be a crack shot. Ages 12–up. (BookLife)