Posts Tagged ‘joseph edward ryan’

the Amber- ountain

I am really rather grateful that Stephen Minchin decided to publish this short novel before calling it a day for Steam Press. It is the sequel to The Glass Projector, which ended on a definite cliff-hanger, and to be frank, I really wanted to find out what happened next. And I was not disappointed. The story took off from where it had left, with little preamble (which does mean that you will need to have read The Glass Projector first), and rocketed on to a most satisfying climax.

As I explained when reviewing The Glass Projector, this is a fantasy steampunk adventure for young people, set against a background of war, and with an innovative twist to the nature of magic. I must say that I enjoyed the over-the-top writing style which perfectly matched the subject. The characters are fun and fascinating, they get to be suitably heroic, the young heroine saves the day, and the villain gets his just desserts. Yes, it’s all very melodramatic, but that’s not a flaw.

Sometimes it’s good to read something that’s simply fun and engaging. Part way through I realised that I was engrossed, and had to tear myself away with difficulty. This is a great read for young and old – and I challenge you to spot the kiwi!

Steam Press

Supplied by Steam Press

Reviewed by Jacqui

 

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the glass projector

It is a bit of a departure for Steam Press to publish a work which is not only by a writer they have previously published, but also one which is the first of a series. Aimed at young adults, “The Witches of Autumn” is what one could define as an alternative universe steampunk fantasy. You can tell that it’s steampunk because there are zeppelins, mad scientists, wondrous gadgets and a hearty dose of derring-do. There is even a proper old-fashioned villain with a twirling moustache! It qualifies as fantasy because it has that magical element, unusually inventive in that the magic is a product of the bond between magician and familiar, the familiar being a ghost who takes the form of an animal. So you already know that this novel is definitely going to be different. The story is set in the city of Autumn which is engaged in an apparently interminable war with nation called Rumland, giving the novel something of a First World War background. But it’s not a war story… It’s more of a treasure hunt, a quest for a lost library of forgotten magic. It’s the story of how a young magician named Thistle together with her familiar Mappo the bat, and her friends Mr Pepper the gargoyle, and Epona the snark become embroiled in the search for an ancient library once discovered by the mysterious Witches of Autumn. And naturally in the process they find the eponymous Glass Projector. But I’m not going to tell you what it does…

This novel has interesting and distinctive characters, a strong plot, and a unique background. It ends (appropriately for its genre) on something of a cliff-hanger, and I have to say that I am genuinely looking forward to the next one. What’s more I’m quite certain I would have enjoyed this book as a child, and I suspect that it will appeal to many an imaginative young reader – and to older readers too.

Steam Press

Supplied by Steam Press

Reviewed by Jacqui

the factory worldGenerally speaking, they tell me, a narrative consists of a plot, some characters and a setting. Most stories are plot-driven, some are character-driven, and just occasionally a novel is setting-driven. “The Factory World” is one of the latter, all about place. And a strange place it is too, alternately dream-like and nightmarish, brought vividly to life through Ryan’s elegant prose.

There are shades of the Wizard of Oz here – one major character is called the Tin Man; another is a boy who wears a lion costume. There are hints of Phillip Jose Farmer’s “Riverworld”; of people from different times waking up together in a strange world. Only here a boy wakes up in a drainpipe, and is rescued by a man in a raincoat. They travel across a dying world together looking for the centre seen only in dreams. Where they believe they will find a way home.

It’s a simple plot, but then plot is not what this is about. It’s about a unique and skilfully designed world, that will stick in your memory… and if the ending seemed a little rushed, and the epilogue unnecessary (there are times when questions are best left unanswered) then that is a small criticism. Read this if you’re looking for something truly different.

Steam Press

Supplied by Steam Press

Reviewed by Jacqui