Bird’s Eye View: A Review of Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley

26114337Title: Steeplejack (Alternative Detective #1)
Author: A.J. Hartley
Genre: Mystery / Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: June 14th, 2016
Hardcover: 336 Pages
Source: Personal Purchase

Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga, makes a living repairing the chimneys, towers, and spires of Bar-Selehm. Dramatically different communities live and work alongside one another. The white Feldish command the nation’s higher echelons of society; the native Mahweni are divided between city life and the savannah. And then there’s Ang, part of the Lani community who immigrated there generations ago and now mostly live in poverty on Bar-Selehm’s edges.

When Ang is supposed to meet her new apprentice, Berrit, she finds him dead. That same night the Beacon, an invaluable historical icon, is stolen. The Beacon’s theft commands the headlines, yet no one seems to care about Berrit’s murder—except for Josiah Willinghouse, an enigmatic young politician. When he offers Ang a job investigating the death, she plunges headlong into new and unexpected dangers.

Meanwhile, crowds gather in protests over the city’s mounting troubles. Rumors surrounding the Beacon’s theft grow. More suspicious deaths occur. With no one to help Ang except Josiah’s haughty younger sister, a savvy newspaper girl, and a kindhearted herder, Ang must rely on her intellect and strength to resolve the mysterious link between Berrit and the missing Beacon before the city descends into chaos.

“The first daughter, it was said, was a blessing. The second, a trial. The third, a curse. As a third daughter myself, I felt the full weight of that last piece of wisdom….”

It was the cover for SteepleJack that first grabbed my attention when perusing upcoming releases online. Industrial, enticing in its brown and gold colors, the name in stark white—yet smudged at its roots—the cover conveyed a vaguely Steampunk feel, which compelled me to click through, seeking out more information. Its blurb promised mystery, a practical heroine and diverse cast, with a heavy dose of political intrigue, all set against an exotic city of gaslights and towering spires. Of course, it went on the preorder list; it hit too many of my preferences to not.

I do want to say that SteepleJack is not a Steampunk-genre story, nor is it a fantasy story. It could, perhaps, be placed in the historical fiction stacks, as it does borrow heavily from the histories of British Colonial Africa and India, mixing together the two into its own unique. However, that isn’t what this book is.

SteepleJack is a mystery. A classically-told YA mystery couched in smog, soot, and gaslight, and I loved every page of it.

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