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Steampunk YA Novel Audiobook Review: Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley

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Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley (Alternative Detective #1)


audiocopy thanks to Audible Studios

Synopsis from Goodreads
Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga, makes a living repairing the chimneys, towers, and spires of Bar-Selehm. Dramatically different communities live and work alongside one another. The white Feldish command the nation’s higher echelons of society; the native Mahweni are divided between city life and the savannah. And then there’s Ang, part of the Lani community who immigrated there generations ago and now mostly live in poverty on Bar-Selehm’s edges.

When Ang is supposed to meet her new apprentice, Berrit, she finds him dead. That same night the Beacon, an invaluable historical icon, is stolen. The Beacon’s theft commands the headlines, yet no one seems to care about Berrit’s murder—except for Josiah Willinghouse, an enigmatic young politician. When he offers Ang a job investigating the death, she plunges headlong into new and unexpected dangers.

Meanwhile, crowds gather in protests over the city’s mounting troubles. Rumors surrounding the Beacon’s theft grow. More suspicious deaths occur. With no one to help Ang except Josiah’s haughty younger sister, a savvy newspaper girl, and a kindhearted herder, Ang must rely on her intellect and strength to resolve the mysterious link between Berrit and the missing Beacon before the city descends into chaos.


Audible US | Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | Book Depository

8/10

* * *
 I have to give major kudos to this book for the creativity. It's rich, full of steampunk elements and takes place on the African continent. The narrator adds to the atmosphere with the cadence of her voice, and I just loved Steeplejack on audio partly because of her!



The investigation itself is not the strongest part of the plot, and I wasn't convinced by Ang's mostly intuitive jumps to conclusions/ I don't think she made for a good detective, and she certainly shouldn't have been offered the job. There was absolutely no reason for her to be primary. It would have made more sense to have her as a consultant helping the police investigation. Having said all that, I loved this book in so many other ways.

The different cultures, skin colours and clashes in technological advances made Bar-Selehm a fascinating place.

Ang is in a difficult position from the start. She is an outsider in her own tribe, she has no influence among the ruling race to go through her investigation successfully, and she doesn't know who to trust within the other tribe, which is in even worse condition than her own. She also decides to take care of her sister's newborn, which is sheer madness if you ask me and which she soon realises as well.

Her superior and his sister, the police detective, the Mahweni girl: they are all fabulous secondary characters and make for some vivid scenes. Take the chimney episode, for example. I was holding my breath there.

Overall, despite a choppy investigation, I really loved this book. It was original, refreshing and superbly atmospheric, so I hope to read more from A.J. Hartley soon. Recommended.

* * *
Большой поклон этой книге за её безумную креативность! Написано богато, живо, полно элементов стимпанка, и происходит это всё на африканском континенте. Рассказчица добавляет сочности повествованию своим типичным для Африки говором.

Само расследование - слабейший элемент сюжета, и мне не понравилось как Анг приходила к своим выводам с помощью прыжков интуиции, а не логики. К тому же, смысла в том, чтобы назначить её ни с того ни с сего частным детективом не было никакого. Ей бы больше подошла роль консультанта при ведущем детективе из полиции, который и так нормально справлялся с ситуацией.

Книга эта однако завоевала меня другими своими аспектами: различиями в культурах трёх рас - Лани, Мавани и Фелдиш, технологическим разрывом между ними и последующим расизмом.

Англет находилась в тяжёлом положении с самого начала. Она - изгой в своём племени Лани из-за её работы трубочиста за пределами поселения, у неё нет никакого влияния на правящий класс, чтобы перед ней открылись двери и на её вопросы ответили, она не знает кому доверять среди племён Мавани, и наконец, она импульсивно и наивно берёт на себя заботу о новорожденной дочке своей сестры, которую она даже толком и кормить не может. Ясно, что последнее решение добром не сказывается.

Её босс и его сестра, полицейский детектив и девушка-газетчица Мавани - превосходные, яркие второстепенные персонажи, да и сцены некоторые настолько напряжённо написаны, что невольно задерживаешь дыхание.

В общем, несмотря на слабенькую детективную линию, книга прекрасная, и читать продолжение я буду обязательно. Очень рекомендую.


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