My confession about this book is that I really didn't like it for about the first 100 pages. And I really wanted to like it because a friend had gone to a lot of trouble to send the book to me. He liked it, a lot. So what was wrong? I picked it up and put it down three different times. I didn't like the characters, not a single one of the motley crew of dysfunctional malcontents. My favorite characters so far were Bess the golem and Slag the cat. Not a ringing endorsement there. I didn't see much sense in where the story was headed, mainly because I didn't see WHERE the story was headed. It just seemed to ramble and wobble around, getting the crew in and out of one scrape after another. Then something happened. For me it was that the author made me interested in the captain of the aircraft, Darian Frey, and I began to wonder why he had been set up to take the blame for something he had not done. From then on, the action in this book simply flew. The mishmash of disconnected characters began to come together into a cohesive unit to try to help each other out of the troubles they were constantly landing in. They began to seem like people who deserved to be liked, people who had to clear up this terrible wrong by whatever means was at their disposal.
I ended up absolutely loving this book. The crew went from one disaster after another and yet they were always focused on their final objective, which was to prove their innocence. With their awful luck, success was never a certainty. The author, Chris Wooding, created quite an unusual mixture in his fantasy world. The aircraft in the story, including Frey's Ketty Jay, were the most otherworldly things in the book while the pirates still fought with cutlass, knife, pistol, and shotgun. There didn't seem to be very much high technology present for these fictional characters to use. That was a little surprising, but it still worked for me after I stopped looking for all the fancy fantasy equipment to show up. And the gold tooth, well, the tooth was a real hoot!
There is nothing deep, intellectual, or subtle about this book. What you get is a rollicking, fast moving (for me after about 100 pages!), adventure story. If what you want is to escape into a fantasy world with swashbuckling pirates then this will be a wonderful book for you. Just try to remember, if it starts out a little slowly for you too, the action really begins to ramp up and it just never slows down from then on.