No calm before this storm

Before the StormBefore the Storm by Sean McMullen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Emily and Daniel live a sheltered and priveleged existence in Melbourne circa 1901. Into their world come Fox and BC, solidiers from the future, who need their help to save the world.

Fox and BC belong to the Imperial Army, an elite military unit from the year 2001. Australia’s first parliament is due to open in a matter of days and Fox and BC are on a mission to make sure nothing(like a bomb blast) disrupts it. Emily and Daniel and Daniel’s friend, Barry the Bag, must use every resource at their disposal to prevent the future of Fox and BC from coming into existence.
Along the way, Emily discovers a strength she never knew she had, and Daniel learns that he is braver than he ever thought possible.
This is a rollicking tale of Victorian values and future sensibilities told with humour and suspense. Highly recommended.

Recommended for ages 12 and up.


A Steampunk Engn?

EngnEngn by Simon Kewin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Received this as an Early Reviewers book for LibraryThing and was pleasantly surprised.
Engn is a fantasy novel set in a world that has 36 hour days. It felt like a steampunk novel, but I think to qualify it would have to be set on Earth, so let’s just call it fantasy/sci fi to make it simple. Written for a YA audience, this is a story of Finn and Connor, who live a mostly idyllic life playing and fighting in the woods near their homes. We learn that Finn’s sister, Shireen, was taken to the leviathan-like Engn by the Ironclads (this novel’s version of Dementors)and has never returned. Periodically teenage villagers are spirited away by the forces of Engn without explantaion.
We learn about Connor and Finn’s friendship, and their relationship with the fugitive Diane, through a series of flashbacks as Finn is himself transported to Engn by the Ironclads. Before they were taken the three vowed to destroy Engn from within or die trying.
The big mystery of the book of course is “what is Engn’s purpose?” Finn works his way through various parts of Engn trying to find the answer and the books biggest flaw is that we don’t really find out.
However, the story flies along at a good pace and the characters are likeable. Finn struck me as a bit of a dolt at times, but I put that down to the fact that he had lived such a charmed life until the day he was taken by the Ironclads. The world Simon Kewin creates is vividly realised, but I got pretty sick of reading the word “fizz” or “fizzed” as descriptors. No less than 11 times through the text – I am sure there were other words that could have been used.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed this novel and I will look at Kewin’s other work as a result.