Friday, December 22, 2017

Book Review: Firebrand by A. J. Hartley

Author: A. J. Hartley
Series: Steeplejack (Book 2)
Publication: Tor Teen (June 6, 2017)

Description: New York Times bestselling author A. J. Hartley returns to his intriguing, 19th-century South African-inspired fantasy world in Firebrand, another adrenaline-pounding adventure.

Once a steeplejack, Anglet Sutonga now assists Josiah Willinghouse behind the scenes of Parliament. When government plans for a secret weapon are stolen, their investigation leads to the doorstep of Bar-Selehm’s super-exclusive social club. Ang has a chance to catch the thief, but only if she can pass for a foreign princess. Her best chance to learn the ways of royalty lies in the regal and brash women of the Willinghouse family ― even if their lessons also involve tamed hyenas alongside dinner etiquette.

Yet Ang has other things on her mind. Refugees from the north are trickling into the city, but an ambitious politician is proposing extreme measures to get rid of them. She soon discovers that one theft could spark a conflagration of conspiracy which threatens the city's most vulnerable people. Unless she can stop it.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this sequel to STEEPLEJACK. Ang has another mystery to solve. Plans for a new weapon are stolen and her boss Josiah Willinghouse sets her on the path to find them. Along the way, she pretends to be a foreign princess to gain entry to an exclusive club with links to the theft and finds herself becoming involved with the refugee problem in her city.

Ang is a fascinating character. She is an ethnic minority in a city which gives minorities less value. In fact, a new movement in Parliament, which her boss is fighting, wants to remove all ethnic minorities from the city. She has been exiled from her community as a result of actions in the first book and is feeling something like a refugee herself. She is also getting used to being a peripheral part of the ruling class. She is a savvy detective who would never be hired by the white police force. She has friends and contacts throughout the different classes in her city.

This story has a steampunk feel. Its setting is an engaging world based on South Africa. I liked the descriptions of the lands outside the city and I liked how uncomfortable Ang was with them. I thought the dangers presented by hippos and lions added to the atmosphere.

I recommend this series highly because Ang is such an interesting character and the world building is so well done.

Favorite Quote:
"Mr. Willinghouse was just reflecting on the discomfited condition of his enemies," I supplied.

Willinghouse glared at me.

"A politician does not have enemies," he remarked. "Just colleagues with whom he has a difference of opinion over the betterment of his country."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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