Starscape, 2014. 978-0765338228
Synopsis: Archie Dent knows there are monsters in the world-his parents are librarians for the Septemberist Society, a secret organization whose job it is to protect the world from the monsters called Mangleborn. But now that alternative 19th Century America is rediscovering the forbidden invention of electricity, the forgotten monsters are rising once again and they’ve taken control of the members of the Septemberist Society-including Archie’s parents! Now, Archie and his family servant-an automaton named Mr. Rivets-must gather s group of seven heroes that will be able to take down the Mangleborn and save the world.
Why I picked it up: I love steampunk and I love that it’s becoming more and more popular as a subgenre.
Why I finished it: This book is fast-paced, with non-stop action from page 1 that makes it almost impossible to put down. In an alternative America in which Yankees and Native Americans have formed a fragile peace, technological progress is threatening to destroy the world as it is known, to tear down the North American empire in the same way other great empires before it were destroyed. Inventors like Thomas Edison are eager to remake the world and will use ancient monsters to do it, a truly frightening prospect for Archie, Fergus, and Hachi who have only ever had an inkling that such terror existed. While each character has their own motivations for going after Edison and the monsters, they discover that they can use each other’s pasts to piece together a way in which the plot to raise the Mangleborn can be stopped. They’re the kind of heroes that will have to overcome both personal and shared obstacles in order to restore order to the world. Gratz has woven together an alternative history about young heroes that is just so, well, cool, that it’s hard not to cheer for the characters. The series is off to a strong start with this volume and I am eager to see where it will go from here and what other members will join the League.
Other related materials: The Steampunk Adventurer’s Guide: Contraptions, Creations, and Curiosities Anyone Can Make by Thomas Willeford; The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature by Jeff VanderMeer and S.J. Chambers; Levithan books by Scott Westerfield, illustrated by Keith Thompson; Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories edited by Gavin J. Grant and Kelly Link; The Zoo at the Edge of the World by Eric Kahn Gale, illustrated by Sam Nielson; Greenglass House by Kate Milford, illustrated by Jamie Zollars; The Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson; The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick; The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan; Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Brian Briggs; The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly by Ted Sanders; The Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief and Sinister by Stefan Bachmann, Katherine Catmull, Claire Legrand, and Emma Trevayne, illustrated by Alexander Jansson