This novella is the beginning of a fantasy tale with a strong steampunk theme running through it.
In a world of magic, wind and electricity, Catter Jeck is offered the chance to explore a myth. Travelling from city to city, his search for the centre of the magic catches others in its coils. When the Lord Heir of Meton offers to continue the search in his flying machine, the consequences of their crash – and Toru’s accidental link to a dying healer – suddenly become of central importance to all of their lives.
This character-led tale packs a great deal in this slim volume, where the world is vividly depicted. Catter and Toru both sing off the page – in fact the character I found I cared most about was the volatile, headstrong Toru, who is larger than life in both his virtues and his faults. His frustration at the limits his title places on his life, along with his passion for flying pack a punch – as do his emotions. I love the world and the way the unintended mental link completely upsets everyone’s plans.
A novella doesn’t have any wriggle room to get any of the components badly wrong – in a full novel if the dialogue or scene setting is below par, I can forgive these flaws if the narrative tension, storyline and characterisation are good. But when there are fewer words, just like a short story, it all has to work as there isn’t sufficient content to diffuse any major problems with the technique or writing.
Coe hits the ground running with this engrossing, enjoyable tale that has me wanting to read the next slice of the adventure – although I would have loved it even more if the two novellas had been rolled into one longer story, as it ended just as I was really getting into the world.