Monday, October 15, 2012

Agatha H. and the Airship City

I picked up Agatha H. and the Airship City based on the synopsis and customer ratings. I was disappointed. I know this story is a graphic novel turned book, and that this was the second in the series (I didn't read the first book). The authors, Phil and Kaja Foglio, first wrote the graphic novel, then produced the novel. You definitely cannot jump into this story in the middle and expect to understand the story. In fact, if you haven't followed the graphic story, the novel is drastically flattened.

Attention Grabber

Steampunkers will be drawn to this story. Dirigibles, mechanical constructs, and scenes filled with rust and random parts abound. The story revolves around those who posses the "Spark" - something of an inherited ability found in the 'royal' families.

Writing Style

I enjoyed the style of writing employed for this story. The phraseology was a bit overdone. I enjoyed the word play, but after awhile it takes the reader out of the flow of the story. You spend a good deal of attention trying to follow the wording, but by the end of the sentence or paragraph, you have to go back and figure out what it said. Distracting!

Character Development

I was most drawn to the monsters, which I found out were a late addition to the story. If it hadn't been for their quirkiness, I would not have been entertained. The other characters lacked depth. They were all very superficial with one sentence definitions that did not develop, sufficiently, later.

There were disjointed things and events that should have been integrated more smoothly into the story. Agatha builds all these things that she doesn't know she built, but they don't come back to the story until the very end. She has this ability to control people and critters, but that is never clarified. Why does she have that ability? What are the possible implications of those little robots? Why is she always showing up in her bloomers? I understand the use of bringing elements around at the end of a story to tie it together, but this was rough. It had more of the feeling of a rushed cramming of things together in too few pages.


There are a lot of distractions that bumped the reader out of the flow of the story. The pace is jerky. It's fast in the wrong places. I kept having to page back to re-read segments because the story does not carry you along.

The beginning of the story is about some men in a wasteland. It sounds very interesting, but then the story jumps to a city and the men in the wasteland are never mentioned again, except almost as an aside. I realize that there are bits and pieces that float in and out of sequential novels, but the story for each novel should stand alone. That is my personal preference, and it caused me to not enjoy all these untidy loose ends.


This book ended. The story did not conclude, it just stopped. I'm sure that was a design to get the reader to buy the next in the series, but it was a big turn off for me. I found myself toying with some of the unique properties of the story but applying them to a different tale in my mind. If I had it to do over, I would have started with the first book, and followed along. As it was, I was too exhausted trying to follow the quirky structure (like one letter per line of a poem!) to want to go back and pick up a multi-book story.

If you are already into the series, I have no doubt you love it. There is a graphic novel component of this story-line that might intrigue you, too, and it's probably the best point to start.


This review is my own opinion. I would love to hear your reaction to this book or series, but please be conversational if you choose to respond. Thank you!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

It's 70 + 7

We had a writing exercise tonight that scared me. I mean, down in the center of my grammatically correct heart scary. Here it is:

Write two sentences – one must be 70 words long and the other exactly seven words. Oh and they have to comprise a paragraph.

Here's what I came up with:

The color etched its way across the frozen indigo sky like a sinuous snake edging through brush on the trail of the elusive soft kiss of dawn, coming to his mind like the number 3, eroding all memory of the last trace of human warmth; draining his heart of every thing that was his soul, every dear piece of happiness, even the last glowing breath of heat in the earth. It was a good day to die.

I was afraid of the run-on sentence, the ever linked by semi-colon drudgery. I was plagued so much by the concept that it was like learning to fly the way Douglas Adams described it in his treasure of a compendium - you try to fall to the ground and miss. While my grumpy self-editor was distracted with the affront of this challenge, my inner self got busy scratching out a convoluted tale. I kind of liked it.