Book Review

Book Review : Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve.

It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea …

The great traction city London is on the move again. It has been lying low, skulking in the hills to avoid the bigger, faster, hungrier cities loose in the Great Hunting Ground. But now, as its great mountain of metal lumbers along in hot pursuit of its quarry, the sinister plans it has harbored for years can finally start to unfold behind its soaring walls …

A young assassin is stalking her own prey through the city. Hester Shaw’s plot is foiled by a young apprentice who has finally stumbled into a real adventure. Tom’s blundering intervention leaves the pair stranded in the Out-Country, a sea of mud scored by the tracks of cities like the one now steaming off over the horizon. Staring back from the city in horror is Katherine, a sheltered Tier One girl who is about to grow up very fast.

I’m on a personal mission at the moment to read more steampunk fiction, and I had this title recommended to me. I tracked it down in my local library, got settled with a cuppa and began to read. Very quickly I found myself becoming drawn into the book, as the plot picked up pace I turned the pages faster, desperate to find out what was going to happen next.

The plot is a captivating tale. The world as we know it is gone, cities and towns have converted to being movable, fitted with tracks and mechanisms, bigger cities “eat” smaller towns and villages, stripping them of their parts and people and using them to keep the cities going. There are two sets of children; Hester and Tom in the Out-Country and Katherine and Bevis inside London. They both start to unravel the secrets that London is hiding, as they do the action picks up wonderfully.

The book is full of brilliant characters. The four children are excellently written as are the people they meet along the way on their respective adventures. I can’t begin to pick out a favourite character, when the options include rebels and pirates and museum custodians it’s an impossible task.

I really enjoyed the way the book was written. It definitely captured my attention and I can imagine it would work brilliantly as bedtime reading for a parent to share with their child. I can’t imagine many parents would be able to resist the temptation to cheat and carry on reading after their child’s asleep though!

Mortal Engines is published in paperback by Scholastic in the UK priced £6.99

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